HPV Vaccine: Saving Lives & Preventing Cancer
SAN ANGELO, TX – The Human Papillomavirus, or HPV, as it is better known, is on the rise in the United States. While the virus will usually be present in most individuals at some point in their life, the risk of cancers caused by HPV is skyrocketing and could be prevented with a simple vaccine.
Even though HPV is identified by most as a sexually transmitted disease, or STD, the virus can be passed on through many forms of intimate skin-to-skin contact. For most individuals, the virus enters their body and leaves with no trace, but for some, that is not the case. In instances in which the body fails to identify the virus it can develop into severe medical conditions and cause up to 5 different types of cancer. In the United States, an average of 11,000 women are diagnosed with cervical cancer as a result from HPV each year. HPV is a virus that affects both men and women, and can be prevented with a simple two-dosage vaccine that is available for males and females from ages 9 up to 26.
For years, HPV has been associated with promiscuity and unsafe sexual practices, but anyone can be a victim of this virus. This is one of the reasons the Esperanza Health Clinic and the American Cancer Association teamed up to provide the citizens of San Angelo a unique experience. This past Saturday, Esperanza hosted a free showing of the film Someone You Love: The HPV Epidemic; a film that detailed the lives of 5 women who suffer with this disease. Informing the public about vaccines and about the services they offer, is one of the reasons La Esperanza Clinic holds free events for the public to attend. Shannon Medical Center and High Sky's Children's Ranch were also present at the event with further information
“This is the people’s clinic,” Mike Campbell, CEO of La Esperanza Clinic, said, “We will figure out how to get you your care and make it affordable for everyone.”
As a bonus, Christine Baze, one of the survivors featured in the film, flew in from Boston to speak about her experiences and sing one of her songs that is featured in the film.
Baze was 31 years old when she was diagnosed with Invasive Cervical Cancer which led to a painful hysterectomy and several rounds of radiation and chemo. For Baze, the diagnosis came as a complete surprise. As a married woman who actively attended routine checkups and had maintained a healthy lifestyle, she could not understand how she had contracted this disease. Through her experience, she learned that HPV is more common than people think as it can affect anyone. She also realized how crucial the vaccine is to saving lives. Experts estimate that if all males and females were vaccinated the number of people whose virus evolved into cancer could be eradicated up to 70%. This is the first vaccine that has been proven to effectively prevent multiple types of cancer.
The event highlighted the importance to look beyond the stigma of HPV and to understand the numerous health benefits that the vaccine can have in a child’s life. Speaking with pediatricians when children are young regarding their options in preventing HPV can be a life saving choice that prevents life changing diseases from developing.
“Cancer sucks.” Baze commented, “[But] this is an opportunity to prevent cancer in both women and men with a vaccine.
The Esperanza Clinic offers HPV vaccines that are affordable for all families regardless of income or insurance status. This upcoming fall Esperanza will be teaming up once again with the American Cancer Society to host a colorectal screening that will allow individuals to understand the risks that they may face with developing colon cancers. Diagnostic colonoscopies and stool samples will be services available to the public that will allow them to monitor their colon health and take preemptive measures to live a healthy life.
For organizations interested in showing the movie to their members please contact Frances Villafane, Health Systems Manager in Primary Care for the American Cancer society, at (817) 570-0603.