Yesterday, we proposed a plan. In an effort to increase communication about a virus most people don’t know enough about — and many women are too ashamed to talk about, even though pretty much every woman we know has dealt with it at some point in her life, maybe more than once, and even though it can cause cancer, and therefore we should know as much as we can about it — let’s open up a little on Twitter. Because if we all come out and say it, how ashamed can we possibly be? We’re talking about the sexually transmitted virus HPV, which has been in the news a lot lately regarding a certain vaccine that Michele Bachmann is very much against. (More about HPV here.) But this post is not to debate the politics of the vaccine or anything else: It’s simply to get the word out. Tomorrow: Tweet, Facebook, or simply tell someone — we don’t care how! — that you have had, or currently have, HPV.
Tell them as much or as little as you want to share. Choose who you tell. Maybe you don’t want to Tweet it — maybe you don’t even use Twitter. Maybe you don’t want to put it on your Facebook page. Fine. We’re not going to be pushy, and it’s your body, after all. Do it when you’re ready. But do it tomorrow!
Wouldn’t you feel fine, minus the illness, telling someone you had or have a cold, or even, say, pneumonia? Why does this virus, simply because it’s obtained through sexual contact (which, by the way, if you’ve had any of whatsoever, you’ve been at risk for HPV — whether you’re a woman, man, in a monogamous relationship, engaging in safe/vaginal/oral sex, or otherwise), have to be imbued with shame and secrecy?
Maybe your doctor told you you had HPV, and you’re watching it, or maybe, luckily, it’s gone away on its own. Maybe you’ve had a colposcopy, or a LEEP, and you’re still going for frequent checkups to followup. Maybe you, like writer Ayelet Waldman, had the unpleasant experience of having cancerous lesions removed but went on to have children and continue in a successful marriage. Maybe you’re a guy, and your sister or your girlfriend or your wife or your mom or your best friend who happens to be a girl dealt with HPV. By age 50, 80 percent of the population of the U.S. will have…there’s a good chance someone you know already has.
So, if you are one of those people…tell someone, tomorrow. We don’t want to get overly mushy, but we’re pretty sure talking about it could help the whole world understand this thing — what it’s about, and how to keep it from becoming cervical cancer — a little bit better.
We’ve been asked for hashtag suggestions: #80Percent, #IHadHPV, #IHaveHPV, #I<3SomeoneWithHPV… Any other good ones?
UPDATE: If you’re tweeting/social media-ing, use #HPVDay.