Last week the scientists who discovered HIV and the researcher who linked human papilloma virus (HPV) and cervical cancer were awarded the Nobel Prize for Medicine. This is brilliant news that people that who have made such a contribution to sexual health are being recognised. Profs Françoise Barré-Sinoussi and Luc Montagnier were the first to identify the viral cause of AIDS in 1984. This newly discovered virus was named HIV in 1986 and its identification led to the development of tests and effective antiretroviral medicines increasing the life expectancy of people infected with HIV.
Prof Harald zur Hausen who shares the Nobel prize established a link between certain strains of HPV and cervical cancer which has led to the development of vaccines against HPV. The government are now undertaking a vaccination programme to protect young women against HPV and cervical cancer, which will save hundreds of lives each year.