Apr 26, 2017 News
…stresses importance for persons to take advantage of vaccine
Persons should not have to suffer from the Human Papilloma Virus [HPV] since there is a
vaccine that can prevent this from happening altogether. This notion was yesterday emphasized by Dr. Patrice Douglas, a self proclaimed advocate for the health of women and girls.
As part of her advocacy, the 26-year-old General Medical Officer has embraced the importance of the HPV vaccine which can help prevent health concerns such as cervical cancer. “I truly love this [HPV] vaccine…from doing multiple outreaches and in getting into conversation with others, I have realised that the [entire] Guyanese population don’t know that there is a vaccine that can prevent cervical cancer…I was quite appalled by that, therefore I decided, with my other colleagues, that I would do an HPV awareness campaign,” Dr. Douglas said.
But an HPV awareness campaign is certainly not a novel undertaking. This is in light of the fact that the Ministry of Health [now Ministry of Public Health] had long before embarked on such a journey.
According to Dr. Douglas, she was forced to embrace such a campaign again because “people [still] don’t know [about HPV].”
Dr. Douglas’s disclosure was forthcoming even as she addressed a Vaccination Week forum spearheaded by the Mayor and Councillors of the City of Georgetown yesterday at the South Road, Georgetown Dorothy Bailey Health Centre.
Dr. Douglas explained that HPV, which is classified as a sexually transmitted infection [STI], is the most common STI known to the health system. “It is more common than HIV; it is more common than herpes. It is said that everyone who is sexually active, at some point of their sexual life, will come into contact with this virus,” the young doctor informed.
She said that for women who are 50 and older, more than 80 percent of them already have HPV. “The thing is HPV is preventable but it isn’t curable,” said Dr. Douglas as she disclosed that there are over 100 types of HPVs, 16 of which are known to cause cancer.
As an STI, HPV is transmitted through sexual contact or sexual intercourse, according to Dr. Douglas. She said that while sexual contact speaks to the actual bodily contact with an individual, including touching parts of the naked body and not excluding the genitals, sexual intercourse refers to oral sex and actual penetration of the vagina or the anus.
“This is serious business,” asserted Dr. Douglas as she continued her deliberation by emphasizing how the virus could be prevented.
“Apart from total abstinence, because you can’t say I’m not having penis and vagina sex and I’m protected…once you’re ‘bumping and grinding’ you can expose yourself to this virus,” cautioned Dr. Douglas.
“Condoms do protect but they are not 100 percent…the entire genital is not covered, the scrotums are out there and there is still skin to skin contact.”
Although the vaccine is available here in Guyana it is only made available to girls nine to 13. But according to Dr. Douglas, in other countries, “males are able to access the vaccination, too, from nine to 26 but sadly [here in Guyana] only our girls nine to 13 can have that vaccine.”
Dr. Douglas yesterday appealed to those in the audience to help to raise awareness and in doing so seek to encourage all parents and guardians of girls between the ages of nine and 13 to ensure that they are administered the HPV vaccine.
“The vaccine works, it is safe, it is effective, it has been tested and it works,” insisted Dr. Douglas.
But the effort doesn’t stop there, as according to Dr. Douglas, “health care providers, like myself, we have a job to do. We have to bring awareness to this disease…every adult that we come into contact with, every young person that we speak to both male and female, they have to know about this vaccine.”
Dr. Douglas pointed out that while the virus is known to more often affect the female gender, males are not immune. “HPV don’t only affect girls – it leads to cervical cancer, anal cancer, mouth cancer, cancer of the vulva, cancer of the vagina and penile cancer. It also leads to genital warts. No one is really protected from HPV; it can affect all of us,” Dr. Douglas warned.
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