Right now in Mali, amidst a political crisis, lie 33,000 doses of the HPV vaccine, unable to be distributed as military funding has become the country’s financial focus. However, the vaccine is perishable, and time is running out. If not utilized within the next few months, the vaccine and with it the possibility of saving thousands of lives, will be wasted.
When we conducted our Malian-based HPV study, a dismal 9.8% of female participants had even heard of cervical cancer. Yet 12%, about 1 in every 10, Malian woman has been diagnosed with HPV. Further, 80% of those diagnosed with cervical cancer will die from the disease. That is, 1,076 Malian women die each year of preventable cervical cancer due to a lack of cytotechnology screening and early treatment programs. Many of these deaths can be eradicated with the same preventative HPV vaccine that has shown success in the developing world.
How is GAIA VF taking action?
We are now gathering and analyzing data in order to validate the usability of the HPV vaccine and obtain approval for its use in Mali and to subsequently build a framework for future vaccine trials. Specifically, GAIA VF will be vaccinating adolescent women in a preventative approach for a sustainable reduction in the prevalence of HPV in Mali.
We are also developping a cloth that tells the story of strong, educated women who proclaim, “I immunize myself, I protect myself, and I take care of myself”– a mantra written as a banner across the image offlowering, healthy cervixes (see attached picture). It is the banner of strength that keeps the virus out of the healthy cervixes, a reminder of the importance of being an educated, vaccinated woman. Every Malian woman who receives the HPV vaccine will receive a cloth so that she might pass on the story of prevention and vaccination, and take on a personal role in curing cervical cancer.
Past, Present, and Future
The GAIA VF HPV vaccine initiative will use traditions of storytelling through textiles in order to change the Malian peoples’ present understanding of HPV and cervical cancer in order to create a foundation of prevention through education and vaccination in Mali. This is an integrated project that involves not only the scientists and personnel at GAIA VF, but the people of Mali in taking steps towards curing cervical cancer.
We thank you for your support.
Our study - evaluation of the prevalence of HPV subtypes associated with cervical cancer - is still ongoing. To date 100% of patients have been enrolled and interviewed and the recruitment of subjects is now closed.
Dr. Ibrahima Téguété, our Malian collaborator on this study, was the recipient a travel grant enabling him to attend the International Papillomavirus Conference in Puerto Rico this month and present a poster with preliminary results.
As you all know Mali is still facing a major political crisis. We believe that continuing to operate our programs will instill hope in the citizens of Mali to sustain them through these difficult times. Our Malian collaborators are continuing their work, and we need to bolster their optimism that peace and prosperity will be restored. More than ever, GAIA VF, our staff, and our patients need our, and your, support.
The second phase of our study - evaluation of the prevalence of HPV subtypes associated with cervical cancer - is ongoing and we are still recruiting women diagnosed with cervical cancer. To date a total of 127 patients have been enrolled; tissue and serum are being collected. In February 2012 the serum samples were shipped to the US to get tested.
As you know, Mali is currently facing a political crisis. On March 21st, 2012 renegade soldiers from the Malian military launched a coup d’état and attacked several locations in the capital city of Bamako. Our staff reported that the flow of activities at the hospital and in the lab slowed down but the study was able to continue without interruption.
In light of this recent political instability, we are trying to secure funds to ensure our programs are not interrupted.
Thank you all for your support!
We are very happy to report that our study is making great progress!
As mentioned in our last update, the GAIA Vaccine Foundation did a pilot study in Sikoro, Mali West Africa. 50 interviews were completed. We recently completed the creation of a database and did data entry and analysis for this pilot. The full KAP/WTP study was entirely completed in May-June 2011 and 100% of the subjects were enrolled. The database for the full study (300 subjects) is built and is currently being reviewed by one of our consultant. Data entry will start next month!
As for the prevalence study, the remaining medical and lab supplies were brought to Mali in September 2011.The founder and scientific director of GAIA VF was recently in Mali to review progress. 80 patients have been enrolled to date and lab work is ongoing. There is a lot to do and we will probably be able to gather data by the end of March 2012.
Thank you for your support!
As mentioned in our previous report the GAIA Vaccine Foundation performed a Knowledge, Attitudes, and Practices (KAP) pilot study - March 2011 - in conjunction with a willingness to participate (WTP) in a vaccine trial evaluation. This HPV study had two aims: 1) To understand the knowledge, attitudes, and practices (KAP) related to HPV infection, associated disease (cervical cancer), and prevention (vaccines) among Malians, and 2) To understand Malians' willingness to participate (WTP) in an HPV vaccine trial. Following this pilot a major KAP-WTP study including 300 participants was conducted in May 2011 in Sikoro and Djikoro. Data analysis will allow us to put in place an education program focusing on HPV and cervical cancer, train our personnel and elaborate on an appropriate approach for establishing such a vaccine trial.The second phase of our study includes an evaluation of the prevalence of HPV subtypes associated with cervical cancer. We are currently recruiting women diagnosed with cervical cancer within the OBGYN department of Hôpital Touré one of the major hospital located in Bamako. We hope that validating the types of HPV associated with cervical cancer will allow us to prepare a proposal for a clinical study in preparation for an HPV vaccine trial.We plan to develop necessary protocols, put an infrastructure in place, and re-train medical personnel. This step is necessary not only for this study, but also for preparing for a vaccine trial (if possible). The goal is to lay the groundwork for all clinical studies to come, and to improve the conditions of vaccine research in Mali.
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