This blog is going to talk about a recent shoot I was on and subject matter the marketing campaign is about. Although I believe it is a topic of extreme importance, and something more people the world over need to know about, I want to issue a warning. This warning is mostly for my younger readers who are inexperienced in the ways of relationships and love, and ask that you first have your parents read this blog before you do as it deals with something they may not have brought up to you yet. I will say this, the research on this topic says girls starting as young as nine should be informed, but I realize that is a parental decision and not mine to make. So let's take a brief pause whilst you youngsters do the right thing and let your 'rents know before you read...
Yesterday I was part of a marketing campaign (in the works) about the virus HPV. This research company is looking to find new ways of getting the word out about HPV, not just to young women, but to everyone. Considering it is linked to sexual health even though it is a public health concern, it can be difficult finding ways to market the vaccine and get information out in general. I understand it is a sensitive topic, but there is so much more that is involved with the over 100 known strains of HPV than most people know about. I hesitated on taking the job initially because my career is so new, and having my stamp on subject matter as stigmatized as HPV scared me a little. But there is one thing I understand: as scary as it is, it is something that deserves attention in order to help save young women's lives. When I arrived at the office, I didn't really know what to expect. And when I left the office, I didn't really know how I felt.
Since the campaign is still in it's infancy and production phase, I won't discuss much on the ads and approaches they are taking to get the word out. I do want to talk about the severity of the virus, and how important it is to take your life into your own hands and get tested. When you start a new relationship, or are in one for years, stay safe and smart and still get tested with your annual woman's exam. As I watched some of the ads they have already made on this topic, I found it really difficult to not get emotional knowing that so many serious health risks, including DEATH, could have been prevented for these women had they been informed, felt supported in seeking information and done something before it was too late.
At the risk of sounding like I am on a soapbox, which is not my intention, I will not go on and on about this topic. There are just a few quick facts I learned yesterday that stuck with me and I felt the need to share.
1. Over 11,000 women are diagnosed with cervical cancer each year stemming from the virus HPV.
2. Not all strains of HPV are incurable, lead to genital warts or cervical cancer, but with so many strains out there, is it worth the risk in NOT getting tested?
3. Pre-cancerous cells are showing up in women with certain types of HPV as young as 22 years old.
I apologize if this subject matter and this blog upset anyone or made anyone uncomfortable. Trust me, the whole time we filmed yesterday, I was uncomfortable. But sometimes it takes getting out of our comfort zones to really learn something important. Think of it this way: When you or someone you know and love finds out they have pre-cancerous cells or complications stemming from a type of HPV, and they didn't know it could have been prevented because they weren't informed, yet YOU did - how uncomfortable would you feel then?
I wanted to come back and add something very important that I left out earlier, and it's something that gets left out when talking about HPV quite often. If you are diagnosed with any form of it, it is not the end of the world. There are so many resources out there to help you live a healthy life even with HPV. It's not knowing you have it, not getting tested and being uninformed that leads to the most severe consequences of this virus. I just want to be clear on that. You can still lead a healthy, vibrant and happy life even with HPV. But knowing and staying informed is your greatest tool for success.