More HPV Education Needed (Latinas Just Don’t Know!)

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Latina women are “less likely to be aware of HPV and the HPV vaccine than non-Latina women, and fewer Latinas were vaccinated than non-Latina women.Journal of Cancer Education (1)

Latina women have many misconceptions about the Human Papillomavirus (HPV) and the various remedies and treatments available. In a study published in 2007 in the Journal of Cancer Education, researchers from the University of California suggested establishing an HPV educational program aimed at the Latin American community. (2)

Since then, research showed a continuing need for HPV awareness and suggested “that an important step in curriculum development should be to conduct focus group discussions with local Latina community health advisors. (1)”

Perhaps focused group discussions should include specific information on the HPV, pap smears, the HPV vaccines, and scientific, alternative HPV remedies.

Latina 2 tells the story of Becky, a young Latina diagnosed with high grade HPV as an example of misconceptions and the lack of awareness concerning HPV in Latin American communities:

“During a routine checkup during Becky’s first pregnancy, it was discovered that she was positive for HPV. She told her husband, who took the news of her illness to mean that she had been unfaithful to him. ‘He took off,’ she says, six years later. ‘And my mother didn’t believe me when I said that the doctor told me I could have gotten this from my husband. She threw me out. I was alone, with a new baby, and the doctor was saying that now I could get cervical cancer.’” (3)

Sadly, Becky is not alone. Latinas make up the greatest number of those diagnosed with cervical cancer, as noted on (4)

In addition, it should be remembered that Gardasil does not protect against all HPV strains and does not treat cervical cancer or genital warts. As the Gardasil website points out: “Gardasil may not fully protect everyone, nor will it protect against diseases caused by other HPV types or against diseases not caused by HPV. Gardasil does not prevent all types of cervical cancer, so future cervical cancer screenings will be important for your daughter. Gardasil does not treat cervical cancer or genital warts. (5)”

The bottom line?

 Latinas need an HPV remedy that targets the latent virus in infected individuals.


(1) Jessica L. Barnack-Tavlaris, Luz Garcini, Olga Sanchez, Irma Hernandez, Ana M. Navarro “Focus Group Discussions in Community-Based Participatory Research to Inform the Development of a Human Papillomavirus (HPV) Educational Intervention for Latinas in San Diego” Journal of Cancer Education, December 2013, Volume 28, Issue 4, pp 784-789

(2) Navarro AM1, McNicholas LJ, Cruz M, McKennett M, Sánchez O, Senn KL, Cañez B. “Development and implementation of a curriculum on cancer screening for small groups of Latino women.” J Cancer Educ. 2007 Fall;22(3):186-90

(3) Pela, R. L. “HPV: Overcoming Stigma on the Road to Health” – Latino Perspectives Magazine. Published March, 2012.

(4) – Cancer Health Disparities


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