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PCI and Immunotherapy Foundation Tackle HPV in San Diego

Published 03/04/2020 by Global Communities

SAN DIEGO – On International HPV Awareness Day, Project Concern International (PCI) stands with local and global health partners to increase awareness of the diseases and cancers caused by human papillomavirus (HPV), and to educate people about prevention with early uptake of the HPV vaccine.

Did you know that 92% of cancer-causing HPV infections can be prevented by vaccines? To help increase HPV vaccine uptake and awareness in high-risk and high-needs communities within San Diego, PCI partnered with Immunotherapy Foundation on a community-based HPV education pilot program.

Leveraging the expertise of both organizations, the program successfully increased knowledge about HPV and the HPV vaccine, enhanced the chances that individuals would get the HPV vaccine, and reduced the negative assumptions about the vaccine for adolescents and children. In addition to creating linguistically and culturally sensitive HPV education materials, the program equipped more than 60 community health workers with HPV cancer prevention messages. The pilot also referred more than 300 individuals to community clinics for the HPV vaccine and other medical reasons.

According to Carrie Hessler-Radelet, President & CEO of PCI, using a participatory approach was key to the success of the program. By engaging the community to understand their needs and training trusted, local community health workers to disseminate prevention education messages, the project empowered the community with the knowledge to make informed decisions and access the HPV vaccine.

“PCI worked with medical professionals to take vital public health information from the clinics out into the community, so they could act on it,” Hessler-Radelet said. “Partnering with communities in this way can have a multiplier effect, increasing the impact of prevention programs. PCI will continue to work to promote the HPV vaccine to protect an entire generation from HPV-related cancers.”

To build on the foundation laid by this partnership and program, IF is kicking off a 2020 HPV community education and awareness campaign. On March 4, 5 and 7, IF will support La Maestra Community Health Centers to raise awareness, provide access to care and educate San Diego communities about lowering their risk of cancer. The non-profit also plans to partner with community health clinics and other community-based organizations to educate and raise awareness about HPV throughout spring and summer 2020, promoting vaccinations during August’s National Immunization Awareness Month and highlighting vaccination opportunities during California HPV Vaccine Week.

“The power and potential of partnerships like these to improve healthcare outcomes and reduce the burden of cancer is truly inspiring,” said Christina Jordan, Immunotherapy Foundation’s executive director. “We are actively reviewing opportunities to scale this community-based approach to HPV cancer prevention, and make sure this message reaches and inspires as many people as possible.”

About Project Concern International: Project Concern International (PCI) is a global development organization that drives innovation from the ground up to enhance health, end hunger, overcome hardship and advance women & girls – resulting in meaningful and measurable change in people’s lives. PCI envisions a world in which the most vulnerable people will have the power to lift themselves out of poverty and to create vital, healthy lives for their families and communities now and for the future. For more information, visit

About Immunotherapy Foundation: Immunotherapy Foundation is a San Diego non-profit organization working to eradicate HPV-related cancers by advancing promising cancer immunotherapy research and advancing cancer prevention. Since inception in 2015, IF has acted as a catalyzer for biologically-sound but financially-starved bench science, accelerating promising science into therapies for patients sooner. IF’s co-founders, activist investor Ralph Whitworth and his wife Fernanda Whitworth, launched IF following recurrence of Ralph’s HPV+ oropharyngeal cancer. Their philanthropic leadership initiated a ground-breaking partnership between University of California, San Diego – Moores Cancer Center and the La Jolla Institute for Immunology. In 2018, IF initiated its pilot HPV educational programming with Project Concern International, with intent to scale findings to national and international sites. From launch, IF has co-fundraised $4.7M with its partner organizations, advancing research that has gone on to receive $20.9M in additional funding. IF is a 501(c)3, and relies on your continued support to end HPV cancers in our lifetime. Learn more at

About the California HPV Roundtable: The California HPV Vaccination Roundtable is a coalition of diverse stakeholders with a mission to work together to prevent HPV-associated cancers and pre-cancers by increasing the California HPV vaccination rate to 80% by 2026. Learn more at