Bonnie Diraimondo has spoken out about HPV related cancers for more than 20 years. Now her voice will be heard by an international audience of top medical experts as the first patient asked to speak at the International Human Papillomavirus (HPV) Conference. Diraimondo was invited to speak during the opening ceremonies in Berlin, Germany on September 17, 2011.
"This is truly an honor to have been chosen by the committee for such a prestigious event," she told EmpowHER. "I am glad to see them incorporating the patient's side of HPV into the mix of researchers, scientists, physicians and others from the medical community."
According to the Centers for Disease Control, HPV is associated with multiple forms of cancer, including:
• Cervical cancer: The most common HPV-associated cancer. Almost all cervical cancer is caused by HPV.
• Vulvar cancer: About 40 percent are linked to HPV.
• Vaginal cancer: About 70 percent are linked to HPV.
• Penile cancer: About 40 percent are linked to HPV.
• Anal cancer : About 85 percent are linked to HPV.
• Cancers of the head and neck are mostly caused by tobacco and alcohol, but recent studies show that about 25 percent of mouth and 35 percent of throat cancers may be linked to HPV.
As a registered nurse, Diraimondo was trained to understand the link between HPV - the most common sexually transmitted infection - and cancer. As a patient, she has survived cancer of the cervix, vagina and vulva, and continues to deal with recurrences of anal cancer. She stays current on research developments, and educates both the public and clinicians on managing HPV, research, preventive measures, treatment options and more.
She's found that many health websites, and even providers, have inaccurate or incomplete information about HPV. "It is discouraging that, even after the 20 years following my initial HPV diagnosis, that many women who I speak with still know very little about HPV. In fact, I learned from first-hand experience that many doctors and nurses often know very little too! "