This past Sunday, Melissa Mark-Viverito, the Speaker of the New York City Council, took to Twitter to make a major announcement about a very personal issue. Putting politics aside, she was focused on health… her health, specifically.
The 45 year old Speaker was recently diagnosed with a high risk strain of HPV and decided to go public as a way to raise awareness about this issue, and help de-stigmatize a virus, which the CDC says, “is the most common sexually transmitted virus in the United States.” In fact, HPV is so common that “most sexually-active men and women will get at least one type of HPV at some point in their lives.”
In terms of why she decided to go this route, Speaker Mark-Viverito, who is the first Puerto Rican and Latina to hold a citywide elected position, Tweeted to one follower, “I struggled & came to conclusion it would be best to disclose & share process I’m going thru hoping it can be helpful to others.”
We cannot think of a greater act of selfless bravery. Brava Madam Speaker.
This is how she broke her news on Twitter:
Yes, I'm an extremely private person. But this position has led me to understand I now have a bigger responsibility. So….#moretocome
Immediately following, there was an outpouring of support, love and kudos on Twitter, and beyond, from both women and men.
“Courageously sacrificing privacy to raise awareness re HPV”
“Thanks for having courage to tell your story to de-stigmatize women’s health”
“recently went through same issue. Biopsy and surgery. Thanks for being a voice for women’s health.”
“A dedicated public servant using her own struggles & fears to educate others & push for change.”
“my mother passed away in June from cervical cancer- best wishes to you and thank you for your courage and for raising awareness”
We think this was one of the most poignant Tweets the Speaker’s news inspired:
“About 79 million Americans are currently infected with HPV. About 14 million people become newly infected each year,” as reported by the CDC. “There are more than 40 HPV types that can infect the genital areas of males and females. These HPV types can also infect the mouth and throat. Most people who become infected with HPV do not know they have it.”
In terms of sign and symptoms, “A person can have HPV even if years have passed since he or she had sexual contact with an infected person. Women may find out they have HPV when they get an abnormal Pap test result (during cervical cancer screening). Others may only find out once they’ve developed more serious problems from HPV, such as cancers.”