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Mar 21, 2013

Healthy Living explores the HPV vaccine

In Healthy Living tonight, we look at a very common sexually transmitted infection, HPV. The virus affects both women and men but in respect of women, it has the potential to develop into a serious health condition, cervical cancer.  Cervical cancer is preventable and is still one of the most common cancers affecting Belizean women. The good news is that there is a vaccine available which is effective for prevention.


Marleni Cuellar, Reporting

The Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) that is a virus is spread through sexual contact and is the most common sexually transmitted infection with potentially fatal complications. It is notoriously linked to the development of cervical cancer in women. Dr Alba Mendez Sosa is a Gynecologist/obstetrician and an oncologist; she says that people come in contact with HPV far more often and younger than we think.


Dr. Alba Mendez Sosa, Gynecologist/Obstetrician, Oncologist

Alba Mendez Sosa

“HPV Is a virus that really can only be appreciated by electronic microscope. That means minimal particle that normally most frequent transmission is through sexual active. The moment we at sexually active we have the chance of getting this virus. Of course right now we try push the use of condom but with HPV this no cover a hundred percent.  Will cover more or less eighty-five percent basis is that this type of virus is a little resistant the pores of the condom and until that we continue to have the risk of contracting HPV at the moment of sexual intercourse. In terms of the first three years of being sexually active more than fifty percent of the women have come in contact with his microorganism. Not all of the women manifest signs and symptoms but at least in the US that is one of the countries that study for prolonged all of the population they show that the teenagers from the period time that they start the sexual intercourse to after three years fifty percent of them were already in contact with this virus.”


Even though it is so common, many people never know that they have contracted HPV. This is why screening tests like pap smears and colposcopys are so important.


Dr. Alba Mendez Sosa

“Sometimes we have discharge sometimes we have problem, with HPV we have nothing. No signs no symptoms except sometimes we have cases we can observe some warts or something like that. That is the cervix and this is the area that all the HPV virus a located and they can stay there; right there. They can start to produce and be in a latent manner. That mean that we can see in Pap smear and we can see by coloposcopy but they are like dormant in this location. In this area we have the facility that produces the cells that go into the duct, cervical canal and outside. The factory of cells, that normally when you contract the virus, they have a DNA that get the memory of these cells start to produce abnormal cells.”


There are over a hundred of different types of the human papillomavirus but only a few have been linked to cancer. Both men and women are susceptible to catching and transmitting the virus.


Dr. Alba Mendez Sosa

“When man born they no have this virus, but he contract from some person that was infected and generally have the capacity to pass to the carrier at the same woman can do the same process. The situation in this issue is that more sexual partners that we have more exposure to different type of virus we can get especially if we no use protection of course our risk is not only for HPV for all of the STD.”

Experts believe the HPV vaccine is the best tool in prevention. The HPV vaccine is a series of three shots over six months given to protect against HPV infection and other problems that HPV can cause.


Dr. Alba Mendez Sosa

“At this moment, the vaccine is the principle prevention. It is approved already for males, for mothers that have girls and little boys my recommendation is let’s work with really preventable measures. The vaccination is one of the goals in the trial of reducing cervical cancer everywhere. If have the possibility and chances I would put my recommendation in vaccinate the kids boys and girls.”


Additionally, Dr Mendez Sosa says she hopes that someday Belize can develop a specialized clinic called a dysplasia clinic.


Dr. Alba Mendez Sosa

“The dysplasia clinic is a clinic that have the colposcope and the instruments to take a biopsy. The colposcope is the instrument forceps to get the piece of tissue establish diagnosis and do the follow up correctly. A small procedure at the same time to the patient and this reduce the incidence for cancer and the mortality of cervical cancer.”


HPV cannot be treated which is why screening tests are important. She encourages sexually active women to get their pap smear starting with one a year for 3 consecutive year, a colposcopy and HPV test for those over 30 and vaccination. As for the vaccine, the price tag is about 800 dollars; which Dr Sosa says is a worthwhile investment.


Dr. Alba Mendez Sosa

“When we put cost benefit compared to the possibility that our child will die in the future of cancer.”

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Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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2 Responses for “Healthy Living explores the HPV vaccine”

  1. islander says:

    It is tough to cover the entire subject in such a small piece but the crazy part about HPV is that about 80% of people have it and the vast majority do not know it because only about 5% show warts which is the only visible sign and symptom.

  2. Seletar says:

    My mother-in-law died from cervical cancer, so I know anything that might cause it must be taken seriously. She was diagnosed too late to save her.

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