By Megan Friedman
Photo by Getty Images
Melissa Mark-Viverito is one of the most powerful people in New York. As the Speaker of the New York City Council, the 45-year-old is the first Latina to hold a citywide elected position. And, like many other New Yorkers, she has HPV.
After a diagnosis last week, she decided to announce it on Twitter:
The decision to go public was not an easy one, she said, but she decided to use her high-profile status to educate the public about the disease. “Yes, I’m an extremely private person,” she tweeted. “But this position has led me to understand I now have a bigger responsibility.”
Her announcement comes after the city’s health department launched an ad campaign urging parents to get their kids vaccinated against HPV. Only 40% of girls and 22% of boys in their teens have completed all three doses of the vaccine, according to the New York Daily News.
About 14 million people become newly infected with human papillomavirus each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, making it the most common sexually transmitted infection in America. Most sexually active people, regardless of gender, will get at least one type of HPV at some point in their lives. Some forms of the virus can cause cancer.
Mark-Viverito tweeted she’ll be getting a biopsy on Tuesday.
She admitted she received the diagnosis after waiting two years to go to a gynecologist, and is now making sure others don’t make her mistake. “Our health should never be compromised,” she tweeted. “Annual physicals have to be sacred. Yet our health care system doesn’t lend itself to this for many.”