New York City Council speaker speaks out about high-risk HPV diagnosis

Dave Evans reports on a surprising Twitter announcement from Melissa Mark-Viverito
Tuesday, August 19, 2014
New York City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito is using her own experience to help educate and speak out for women's health.

That's after revealing on Twitter that she has been diagnosed with HPV.

She told her followers she is nervous after the diagnosis, and that having high-risk HPV can potentially lead to cervical cancer. She spoke to reporters about the revelation on Tuesday.

"My doctor called me on Friday, and it's something I struggled with for a couple of days to figure what I was going to put out there if I was going to," she said. "Now it is a high-risk, in terms of HPV, that I was diagnosed with, and so I did have to undergo a procedure this morning, and we will await the results."

Mark-Viverito, 45, hopes her experience will help encourage other women to get tested and open up the conversation for better access to health care for women.

"Sex in general is also stigmatized in our country, and I think these are conversations we need to keep having so that we don't think it's taboo or something that should be kept behind closed doors," she said. "And if I've helped in any way to raise that level of discourse and make women think twice or think again about what level of care they're getting, then it was for the right reason."

According to the Centers for Disease Control, human papillomavirus (HPV) is the most common sexually transmitted infection in the United States.

In one tweet, she wrote "To say I'm not a wee bit worried equals a lie." In another, she said she "struggled and came to the conclusion it would be best to disclose and share the process I'm going through hoping it can be helpful to others."

Mayor Bill de Blasio praised Mark-Viverito for going public.

"I, before this weekend, had great respect for Melissa Mark-Viverito," he said. "My respect today is even greater. She did something very brave."

The council speaker revealed she had a gynecology exam Friday and that she needs a biopsy. Medical experts say she's doing the exactly right thing, and that the only way to prevent the virus is to vaccinate when girls are 11 or 12 years old.

"She's facing a personal crisis," de Blasio said. "She could have kept it to herself, no one would have blamed her. But she decided to use it as a teachable moment, to encourage women to get the screening they need."
Related Topics:
health health hpv new york city council New York City
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