In this episode of OutBüro Voices featuring LGBTQ professionals, entrepreneurs, and community leaders from around the world, host Dennis Velco chats with Teresa Norris and Anthony Lombardi from the HPV Global Action non-profit. Be sure to listen or watch this episode packed full of great information.
Teresa founded the HPV Global Action non-profit in 2002 after her best friend died of cervical cancer the year earlier. There was not much awareness of HPV and Teresa changed her career plans to provide information and awareness of HPV (human papillomavirus). The organization is based in Montreal Canada with team members in other countries. In Canada, HPV Global Action is key for providing sexual and reproductive health information in a sex-positive and inclusive evidence-based educational manner. Teresa and the team travel around the globe to conduct training starting with 12-year-olds through to health professionals sharing programs and best practices. Anthony had a career education and currently lives in Europe. After meeting Teresa, they formed an organizational partnership.
Anthoney became more involved through volunteering at HPV Global and thereafter accepted his current role as Chief Operating Officer.
There are over 180 strains of HPV. Over 40 strains are pervasive and can cause 9 different cancer and genital warts. The cancers include tonsil, vocal cord, tongue, throat, anal, penis, vulva, vagina, and cervical. Over 75% of all humans around the world will contract at least one strain of HPV in their life. HPV is transmitted by skin-to-skin contact within the waste (bathing suit) region. It does not require full-on sexual intercourse like many other sexually transmitted diseases. Condoms do not protect against acquiring HPV.
Persons with vaginas can have an HPV test as part of their cervical health screenings through a specific HPV screening. Unfortunately, there is no HPV test for persons with penises. HPV lives in the cell within the pelvis area. They do not flow through the blood like other viruses. The body does not create anti-bodies which is why tests for persons with penises are not available. The only way they will know they have HPV is if they show signs of it such as genital warts (which can also be in the mouth) or they have one of the 9 cancers associated with HPV. HPV can live dormant in the body for as long as 40 years and signs may at any time after infection. A person can transmit HPV without showing any signs or symptoms.
HPV vaccination is key to prevent HPV and the associated cancers. There is a focus on providing HPV vaccines to youth prior to sexual activity. However, there is typically no upper age limit so anyone at any time can receive the vaccine to prevent future HPV acquisition. HPV vaccination is a cancer prevention tool. Many health insurance plans will cover the cost.
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