Former ABC Bachelorette hopeful and pediatric dentist Dr. Misee Harris was simply researching HPV online and was shocked to see the news surrounding Michael Douglas and his oral cancer revelation. People see a big time mega movie star like Michael Douglas and feel so far removed from his reality, that they don't think it could happen to them. So the news that oral sex ultimately caused his cancer is huge Hollywood gossip and likely doesn't seem true for average everyday Americans. Of course this is far from the truth, according to Dr. Harris, as she had just diagnosed a patient who had unknowingly contracted HPV -- a teen patient.
As a medical professional who often treats patients in underserved communities, Dr. Harris quotes the CDC. Black and Hispanic women get cervical cancer more than women of other races, possibly because of decreased access to Pap testing and follow-up treatment. As a dentist, Dr. Harris is extremely disturbed to diagnose teens with oral HPV and has to then break the news to a teen who's oblivious to the danger they have put themselves in and has to further tell the parent who is usually in denial about their children's sexual activities. It is not a pretty scene but with the rise in oral HPV cases, Dr. Harris finds herself having to explain sexually transmitted diseases to patients and their parents.
Dr. Harris is adamant that teens should be getting the HPV vaccine. "Kids today absolutely must get the Gardasil vaccine!" Dr. Harris reports that parents may be the biggest obstacle to children obtaining the vaccine and preventing HPV in most cases. "Parent's I'm telling you, your children need to be protected and it is your obligation to protect them -- especially against a disease that is preventable. In the southern US where Dr. Harris practices dentistry, studies show that percentages of black and other minority girls protected by all three doses of Gardasil are significantly lower than in other parts of the country.
"It does Michael Douglas no good to backtrack from the original statement regarding his oral cancer. He should be using his celebrity to and shout from the rooftops for parents to protect their children!" exclaims Dr. Harris. CTV News reports that HPV is linked to the Western's world fastest emerging cancer. Dr. Harris further explains: "This is the tip of the iceberg and America better heed this wake up call. Our children deserve better than this."
To learn more about Dr Misee Harris visit her website
Photographer - Carlos Stephenson