Dear colleagues and friends of EUROGIN,
Again this year, the scientific committee of EUROGIN, directed by Dr Joseph Monsonego, is preparing an elaborated programme for all of us, in Florence, Italy, November 3-6.
Over the years, EUROGIN has become an unavoidable scientific congress. At the beginning, the congresses were held every three years but, with the speed of scientific developments, later their frequency became nearly yearly. Some of us are old enough to remember the 1st EUROGIN congress in 1994. Harald zur Hausen and Maurice Tubiana were honorary presidents, and close to 500 scientists and clinicians participated. HPV-related diseases have surely been one of the areas of greatest progress in medicine.
An example of rapid progression is vaccine. After the 2003 meeting, one of the conclusions of the congress stated that “Development of prophylactic vaccines for HPV is warranted”. Only five year later, at the 2008 EUROGIN meeting, results of clinical studies demonstrating the efficacy of a vaccine against some types of HPV opened the way to prevention of HPV infections and hopefully of cervical cancer. EUROGIN has been a very important way to spread the good news to physicians and patients all over the world. HPV vaccines are now included in the immunisation programmes of industrialised countries and the main issue is actually reaching the target women. The gap with the low-resource countries, which would most need vaccination, is still evident. However the success of monitored pilot projects in countries like Bhutan or Rwanda and the opening of GAVI to support low-price delivery to the poorest countries are important. On the side of technology, the development of multivalent vaccines is in a very advanced stage.
A large amount of evidence has been produced about the use of HPV testing for cervical screening and research could define some crucial issues on how to perform it. A large amount of research is however on-going, including the pooled analysis of existing randomised trials, the development of biomarkers, their practical application and their integrated use. New developments of relevant impact for clinical practice are therefore expected for the EUROGIN 2013 conference. A main point is now moving to the practical implementation of HPV-based screening. HPV based screening is now officially recommended in a number of industrialised countries. This however entails facing a number of problems of organisation, communication, monitoring and quality assurance. The recent availability of low-cost and robust HPV tests also opens the perspective of a practical implementation of HPV-based screening in low-resource settings. Comparing how these issues have been approached in different high- and low-resource countries will be one of the purposes of the conference.
The main issue in the next years will be the integration of vaccination and screening. Massively vaccinated cohorts will soon reach the age of screening and defining an adequate screening policy for them is urgent. On the other hand, the combination of screening and vaccination can be exploited in order to reach a rapid reduction of cervical cancer and to reduce the costs and undesired effects of screening. Hypotheses in this direction have been formulated, model simulations are on-going and studies are being planned. EUROGIN aims to be an occasion of update and discussion on these subjects.
Again this year, WACC (Women Against Cervical Cancer), founded in 2008, will be part of the congress. It is an initiative that aims to make cervical cancer prevention a top priority on women's and public health agendas. The essence of WACC is embodied in five missions: to inform, to gather, to educate, to work together and, most importantly, to take action!
We therefore invite you to Florence to participate in this year's EUROGIN congress to stay “up to date” in the field of HPV infection. Twelve years ago, our main goal, beside cervical cancer prevention, was the treatment of vulvar warts. Today, our attention covers not only female lower genital tract infections and lesions, but also anal, penile, and head and neck lesions both in men and women. You should come to be able to bring back to your institution the most recent knowledge about HPV and to meet over 2000 colleagues, researchers, speakers who are participating in lively discussions.
Finally, we hope that you will enjoy your stay in the beautiful city of Florence!