Many young people, who become sexually active have no idea what HPV - human papillomavirus - is, and unfortunately, many women only get acquainted with it when it is too late. That could be, for example, when finding pre-tumour or tumour changes in the cervix. Nowadays, the number of diagnosed diseases associated with this virus in the ENT area is also growing.
HPV is one of the most common infections worldwide. To give an idea, it is stated that about 80% of the population will encounter this infection at least once in their lifetime and 630 million people are currently infected (38 million suffer from HIV infection). Furthermore, more than 90% of cervical and anal tumours are associated with HPV, and annually about 300,000 women worldwide die of cervical cancer alone.
The HPV project is a new project of the local branch of IFMSA, which focuses especially on raising awareness and creating a dialogue on this issue. Two students, Anna Pelzová and Barbara Firla, who felt that this problem was not talked about enough among people and that HPV, as a sexually transmitted disease, is a taboo for many of them, came up with a proposal for this topic. On that account, they decided to work on this topic with the support of the Brno branch of IFMSA. The project also reflects the personal experience with HPV infection and its associated diseases of some of the team members.
In total, about fifteen students are currently involved in the project. Together, they focus on content creation, social media management, and communication with partners, including HPV College, Chase Art, and the Cancer Research Foundation. Thanks to this significant cooperation, students have the opportunity to record interviews with experts or visit laboratories dealing with HPV detection. They then share all this via Instagram and Facebook social networks. Starting from February, you can also see informative posters in Brno's public transport and in Brno's hospitals and health centres, referring to the Instagram account.
In the Czech Republic, there are other initiatives dedicated to HPV, especially the above-mentioned HPV College. However, students of the Faculty of Medicine MU, as the first and only exclusively student initiative, would like to focus primarily on secondary school pupils, further education schools and younger University students, as there is still low awareness of this infection in this area. For these purposes, personal meetings would be optimal, however, that is unfortunately not possible at this time. One of the goals of this initiative is to start a dialogue on the topic of protection and vaccination, which is considered to be the best prevention of infection and the formation of a tumour by professionals. The students want to participate in the achievement of a daring goal, which is to eliminate deaths by tumours caused by HPV infections within several decades. In doing so, they follow the motto of IFMSA "think globally, act locally".
During March, you will be able to read short texts from students involved in this project on social networks of the Faculty of Medicine MU.