HUMAN PAPILLOMAVIRUS IN ARGENTINA: AN INDEPTH STUDY OF THE CAUSE OF THE FREQUENCY OF HPV IN WOMEN IN BUENOS AIRES
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Human Papillomavirus in Argentina: An in-depth study of the cause of the widespread incidence ofHPV among the women in Buenos Aires to determine why HPV is so prevalent in this population despite many available prevention methods. Contextual Information: The Human Papillomavirus is the most common sexually transmitted infection (STI) in the world, and can lead to serieus health problems such as cancer ("Human Papillomavirus"). However, it is also easily preventable. A series of vaccines as well as condoms can prevent the spread of this virus ("Human Papillomavirus"). Argentina's public health care system offers free vaccinations and contraceptives that can prevent HPV infection. Despite its preventability, HPV infection is still common. There are over 100 different forms ofHPV (Ministerio de Salud), and almost every sexually active person will contract some form ofHPV in his or her lifetime ("Human Papillomavirus"). Like other diseases, such as the common cold or flu. there is no treatment for HPV, but the body's immune system can fight off the virus. However. unlike the cold or flu, which last only a matter of days, HPV infection can last years, providing ample time for an infected person to pass the disease on to a sexual partner. In addition, the symptoms of HPV may not appear for months or years, so individuals may be unaware that they have HPV ("Virus del Papiloma Human”). If a person’s immune system is weakened, the HPV can cause cells to become cancerous or lead to genital warts (“Virus del Papiloma Human”). A study conducted in Argentina found that 51.6% of women surveyed tested positive for HPV. Of that total, 7.3% tested positive for more than one form of HPV, and more than a quarter of them were found to have a form of HPV linked to cervical cancer (“HPV vaccine in Argentina”). This investigation seeks to determine why HPV remains a problem in Buenos Aires despite its preventability. Methodology: This study was uses qualitative and quantitative information from primary and secondary sources. Secondary sources made up the majority of the quantitative information. The Ministry of Health of Buenos Aires and the Instituto National del Cancer provided statistics on percentages of women with varying forms of HPV and cervical cancer. Qualitative information was obtained from interviews of medical professionals and parents with daughters. Both the qualitative and quantitative information was analyzed to identify reasons for the high rates of HPV in Buenos Aires. Results: After conducting interviews with medical professionals and parents of girls of vaccination age, and analyzing statistics of HPV patients, I concluded that the prevalence of HPV in Argentina can be attributed primarily to the public’s lack of knowledge regarding HPV, and its vaccine. Misinformation and a general lack of knowledge have made some persons wary of the vaccine. Factors such as low income level, limited access to the public healthcare system, inconvenience, and parents’ personal bias against the vaccine seemed to play only small roles in deterring people from the vaccine and using other forms of prevention. Despite programs designed to educate people about HPV and to promote the HPV vaccine, many people still seem unaware of the severity of the infection and the availability and effectiveness of the vaccine.