On Thursday, Nov. 5, the critically acclaimed documentary, “Someone You Love: The HPV Epidemic” will be screened in Marietta College’s McDonough Auditorium. The film chronicles the struggles, tragedies and triumphs of five women affected by the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV).
The event is part of a larger effort to raise awareness about HPV throughout the region. Faculty and students have partnered with the Appalachian Community Cancer Network (ACCN), an organization aimed at reducing cancer and health disparities in the Appalachian region. The ACCN has collaborators in Kentucky, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and West Virginia, where this complicated and often misunderstood disease is especially common.
“The purpose of this film screening is to educate people about the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV), a sexually transmitted disease that is carried at some point by about 80 percent of sexually active men and women,” Dr. Alane Sanders, Associate Professor of Communication Studies, said.
Statistics show that one in two college students currently carry the virus. However according to Sanders many people who have HPV do not even know they have it. She hopes that this event will help increase awareness about the disease.
“The film helps people understand how common the virus is, how it is spread, and how to protect themselves and those they love from its effects,” Sanders said.
HPV is the second leading cause of cancer in women. It can develop into cervical cancer, a disease that kills over 250,000 women worldwide each year.
The film’s website, hpvepidemic.com, “These women are real. Real mothers, real daughters, real wives, girlfriends, friends and sisters,” Sanders said, “Anyone who has been sexual with even one partner is at a high risk for catching HPV.”
Sanders added that, while the film – and most messages about HPV – are focused on women, it is important to know that men are just as often carriers of the disease.
“Men should watch this film to understand how to protect themselves and others,” she said. “Moreover, there are very safe vaccines that are approved for both men and women to decrease the chances of getting HPV.”
The event will begin at 6:30 p.m. and is free and open to anyone wishing to attend. In addition to the film itself, medical professionals will be available to answer questions. There will also be information packets available.
“I hope the audience walks away from the event feeling informed and empowered,” Sanders said. “Knowledge is power and knowing how to protect yourself or seek treatment early can be life changing.”
For more information, visit the “Someone You Love: The HPV Epidemic” Facebook page or hpvepidemic.com.