By Bonnie Diraimondo, RN
For many women, a diagnosis of HPV may come in the mail via a form letter. Some doctor’s offices will contact the patients by telephone and inform them that they test positive for HPV. But what happens after this? If you happen to be informed at one of your routine visits, even then you may not receive much information.
Nurses, who are usually the ones taking on the role of educating the patients, are sometimes sorely misinformed regarding the human papillomavirus (HPV) and I have heard harrowing stories about the totally incorrect information being provided to a patient such as, “HPV only affects the cervix.” This is not only negligence, in my opinion, but jeopardizes the patient when they are unaware of the significant role posed by this virus.
Unfortunately, this results from both doctors and nurses being poorly educated themselves. While each are required to take continuing medical education courses in order to renew their licenses (usually every two years), a course regarding HPV is not mandatory in any state in the nation. Keep in mind this is a virus that affects 80 percent of the population, yet one which requires no minimum certification when it comes to their own knowledge.