Matt Schorr
October 21, 2019

NASHVILLE, Tenn. HPV stands for human papillomavirus, the most common sexually transmitted infection. It’s usually harmless and often goes away on its own.

In some cases, however, it can lead to cancer in both men and women.

This information, despite its importance, isn’t well known among African American men. Many are unaware of HPV, its relationship with cancer or the importance of getting vaccinated.

Because of this, Second Missionary Baptist Cooperative Ministries, the Cervical Cancer Coalition of Tennessee, Meharry Medical College (MMC) and the Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center (VICC) Office of Patient Community Education (OPACE) partnered to hold the 2019 African American Men Cancer Summit. It was part of an initiative to reduce HPV-associated cancer risk among African American males.


Information and data

“Specifically, we collaborated to identify informational needs of African American males as it relates to HPV, cancer and prevention to develop an educational program and best channels to provide this program,” Jennifer Erves, PhD, MPH, MAEd, MS, CHES explained.

According to Erves, data collected from three focus groups and 30 surveys indicated that men wanted information on HPV and its association with cancer, as well as prostrate, colon and pancreatic cancers. They believed that information, she pointed out, should primarily come from churches such as Second Missionary Baptist Church, which is often the center of African American culture.

“These results led to the development of the African American Men Cancer Summit,” she said. This work was supported by a Community-Engaged Research Core (CERC) mini grant.


‘More knowledgeable and empowered’

Preliminary results from the summit show that men intended to eat healthier, exercise more, undergo screenings from a doctor, share information with family and friends, encourage others to and/or receive the HPV vaccine, and participate in cancer research.

“Overall, the men who attended said they felt more knowledgeable and empowered to prevent and/or fight against cancer, “Erves said, “and they’d like more summits like this one.”

The summit saw nearly 40 men in attendance and was made possible by Meharry Medical College, American Cancer Society, and Meharry/Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center/Tennessee State University (MMC-VICC-TSU) Cancer Partnership.


About the Meharry-Vanderbilt Alliance

Founded in 1999, the Alliance bridges the institutions of Meharry Medical College and Vanderbilt University Medical Center. Its mission is to enrich learning and advance clinical research in three primary areas -- community engagement, interprofessional education and research -- by developing and supporting mutually beneficial partnerships between Meharry Medical College, Vanderbilt University Medical Center and the communities they serve. Through community engagement, the Alliance serves a large community of stakeholders including surrounding universities and colleges, community organizations, faith-based outlets and community health centers. Its interprofessional education enhances students' interdisciplinary understanding and improves patient outcomes through integrated care. The research conducted provides access to experienced grant writers and materials supporting the grant application process and facilitates grant-writing workshops.