Pharmacy student wins regional grant to launch #KnockOutHPV campaign at Wayne State

Adalah YahiaThird-year Pharm.D. student Adalah Yahia was awarded a $3,000 grant to launch and manage a yearlong campaign that builds awareness about the cancer-causing human papillomavirus (HPV) campuswide, as well as to increase vaccination rates among the Wayne State community.

RSVP for #KnockOutHPV kickoff

Yahia applied for and won the 2018-19 Student Project Award from the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy / American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy (NABP/AACP). Only one such award is given in the entirety of District IV, which covers all pharmacy schools in the Midwest. Both faculty and student judges evaluate proposals before a winner is chosen.

She designed the campaign and has planned a full cycle of events and communications to increase uptake of the HPV vaccine among Wayne State students.

“I have an interest in oncology,” Yahia said, “and this project targets a cancer-causing virus that is preventable with vaccination.”

Every year in the United States, more than 32,000 cases of cancer are caused by HPV. Although a highly effective vaccine has been available for some time, because HPV is sexually transmitted, cultural and religious beliefs often discourage parents from getting it for their children alongside routine vaccinations. Another barrier is that full inoculation requires two to three shots on a set timetable.

Adalah YahiaAccording to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in 2016 only 43.4% of U.S. adolescents aged 13-17 years had completed the HPV vaccine series. HPV is thought to be responsible for more than 90% of anal and cervical cancers, about 70% of vaginal and vulvar cancers, and more than 60% of penile cancers. Cancers of the head and neck are mostly caused by tobacco and alcohol, but recent studies show that about 70% of cancers of the oropharynx may be linked to the virus.

Yahia’s #KnockOutHPV project will enlist the help of fellow students in the American Pharmacists Association–Academy of Student Pharmacists (APhA-ASP) Operation Immunization section, with clinics run in collaboration with the Wayne State Campus Health Center. The program involves five key interventions: promotion and outreach, patient education, provider education, access and patient retention.

Yahia aims to improve HPV vaccine uptake among the Wayne State community, as well as assess the program’s impact on individual knowledge and attitudes toward HPV vaccination.

“This project has tremendous potential to improve the health of our community and serve as a scalable template for other universities to follow,” said Assistant Professor (Clinical) of Pharmacy Practice Joe Fava, Yahia’s faculty advisor for this project.

#KnockOutHPV launches on Thursday, Jan. 17, with a 5 p.m. screening of the award-winning documentary film “Someone You Love: The HPV Epidemic,” in the Eugene Applebaum College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences auditorium. Medical, nursing and pharmacy CE credits available.

Learn more and RSVP for the kickoff and movie screening.

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