The role of “men” in preventing HPV related cervical cancer!

(Photo Credit Gardasil)

This blog was originally posted on CHATpdx.org as a program of CHATpdx For more information check out: Our Facebook Page

In the US, it’s estimated that a majority (75%-80%) of men and women will be infected with the Human Papillomavirus (HPV). With about 6 million new cases of genital HPV every year (there are over 30 genital HPV types) and a majority of these (about 74%) of them occurring in 15-24 year olds, the need for effective prevention programs directed to youth is crucial. The new HPV vaccines protect against the two types of HPV that cause a majority of cervical cancer and genital warts cases.  These vaccines, however, are only effective if they are taken BEFORE someone is infected with HPV. HPV often has no signs or symptoms and partners engaging in sex (or any other kind of genital contact) may be transmitting HPV without even knowing they have it. Recently the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommended HPV vaccination for girls 11-26 and have stated that Gardasil can also be given to boys ages 9-26. In women HPV can cause serious health problems including genital warts, cervical cancer, vaginal cancer and vulvar cancer. These cancers can cause death or infertility in women. Men on the other hand usually only develop genital warts. While this is a small percentage of men that could develop HPV-related cancer of the anus or penis, it is much less common.

Subsequently, I believe that men have a pretty important role to play in the prevention of HPV. Likelihood of developing cervical cancer is greatly reduced if the vaccine is used. Unfortunately, it is too common for women (particularly women of color) to have barriers to screening services or accessing this vaccine because of the stigma around accessing sexual health services. This reality makes it even more important for men to seek the vaccine and to encourage the women in their lives (particularly the ones they are having sex with) to also receive the vaccine. I have encouraged many of the women in my life to get the vaccine whether or not they have been sexually active or think they are at risk. Men have the same responsibility to help prevent HPV even if they do not suffer the same consequences as women.  As allies, men can play an important role in helping to reduce HPV transmission. It’s time that men stand in solidarity with our friends, sisters and mothers by encouraging them to seek pap smears as part of a well-women’s annual checkup as well as the HPV vaccine.

(Photo Credit http://www.gardasil.com/hpv)

Speaking of mothers, my own mama had such a hard time talking about her own health growing up. I remember her waiting for us to leave for school before she would call our neighbor to talk about a yeast infection she once had. This kind of taboo, to not even want to say the word “Vagina” like it was some sort of dirty word only reinforced my ideas as a kid that we weren’t supposed to talk about our bits and pieces. I was lucky to even get a pack of condoms on my nightstand when she thought I was having sex with a note that said “no seas guey” (don’t be dumb). Growing up in an undocumented Latino family we never dreamed of going to the hospital unless our arm had actually fallen off, yet alone to receive preventative care. Our fear of getting deported was much worse than the fear of cervical cancer. Growing up I’ve had to learn to talk about sex and sexual health in a way that resonates with my mother and with my siblings. At times it can be hard, but for the women in my family, I knew it would be the only way I could convince them to talk to a doctor and get the care they needed. They may roll their eyes or not want to talk about it, but I care about the health of the vaginas in my family, just like all men should care about the vaginas in theirs.

What do you see as the role of men and boys? How can you advocate for the health of women in your life?

-Ernesto

edominguez@cascadeaids.org

Our (Spanish) Hotline: Servicios de Intervención Temprana (telephonica), Apoyo Latino

In honor of National Latino AIDS Awareness Day

Apoyo Latino: 1.800.499.6940

Apoyo Latino is the Oregon Spanish speaking HIV/STD Hotline provided by Cascade AIDS Project.  Apoyo Latino provides culturally relevant HIV/AIDS information, support, and referrals to the Latino and/or Spanish speaking community.  It is a confidential and free service open Monday through Friday from 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.

Hotline Counselors have quick access to thousands of up-to-date local and national resources and can make appropriate referrals as needed.  Many calls include referrals to HIV/STD testing sites, AIDS services organizations, legal, financial, substance abuse, domestic violence, physical or mental health care, support groups, and GLBTQ services.

Counselors are also able to help HIV+ callers get connected to the support services they need including case management, legal, housing, prescription coverage support, financial, housing, and transportation assistance.

If you or someone you know is infected or affected by HIV/AIDS or STDS and need assistance you can call anytime during our hours to speak with a compassionate and knowledgeable individual.

Servicios de Intervención Temprana, Apoyo Latino

(antiguamente conocido como Care Link y Apoyo Latino)

Cascade AIDS Project

Descripción:

Es un programa de Cascade AIDS Project que ayuda a la gente con VIH/SIDA a conectarse con servicios relacionados con el VIH/SIDA.

Servicios:

  • Ayudarle a encontrar servicios médicos y un trabajador de casos personales
  • Ayudarle a encontrar un seguro médico
  • Hacer sus citas médicas y/o llevarle al médico
  • Ayudarle a llenar las formas necesarias
  • Abogar por usted con los proveedores de servicios
  • Ayudarle a encontrar recursos de transporte
  • Ofrecerle información y referirle a servicios
  • Hablar sobre las barreras que existen por la diferencia del idioma y la cultura

Requisitos:

Todos los servicios son gratuitos y están disponibles para todos, posean o no documentos.

Horario: Se atiende de lunes a viernes de 9am a 5pm.

Contactos:

503-223-5907 Hay personal bilingüe.

1-800-499-6940 Línea en español.

What if we could get celebrities like Mario Lopez , Penelope Cruz, Carlos Mencia or Antonio Banderas  to answer the line…?