Concerns raised by Guyanese parents in the New York area about the side-effects of the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) vaccine that was launched among school-age girls in Georgetown, was quickly quelled by Guyana-born gynecologist, Dr. Mahendranaugh Sohan during a recent interview in his downtown Brooklyn office.
Dr. Sohan shot down claims that Gardasil is a danger to the lives of young girls, by stating that the benefits of the vaccine far outweigh the side effects, which he added are similar to the effects of a stomach virus.
A Board Certified obstetrics and gynecology specialist, Dr. Sohan argues that contrary to reports, the HPV Vaccine is not controversial, adding that since the CDC approved the vaccine in 2009, it has shown to be quite beneficial, combating more than 30 types of HPV viruses.
According to a Demerara Waves Online News report, there was an up-roar in Guyana when parents were told that Gardasil was being administered to girls to counter Types 6 and 11, that cause genital warts, and Type 16 and 18 that cause cervical cancer.
“The only way someone could contract the HPV virus is from sexual activity, so pretty much the majority of the population is at risk, said Dr. Sohan, chief of the Brooklyn Women’s Pavilion, at 44 Court Street.
Stating that any medical professional, not necessarily a cancer specialist could administer the drug, Dr. Sohan explained that the vaccine is a preventative medicine, that was initially approved for girls, age 11 to 12 only, but subsequently approved by the CDC for boys from age nine to 26.
“There is a lot of misconception about vaccines in the Guyanese community, said Dr. Sohan who feels the population is not educated enough about the effectiveness of these health measures.
Dr. Sohan, who completed his education at Albany Medical College and St. Luke’s Roosevelt Hospital Center, supports the Ministry of Health’s lead in administering the vaccine, from a public health concern. And according to him, the drug has to hold a lot of weight because the FDA approved it for use in the USA.
He insists that the health department of Guyana should educate the nationals about the dangers of cervical cancer. Women are diagnosed with this form of cancer at a very high rate in third world countries such as Guyana because of the lack of screenings and vaccination.
However, Dr. Sohan who provides OB/GYN care to women from teenage to golden age despite their economic status, argues that most women should get a yearly pap smear. And more so for women in Guyana who are at greater risk because of the lack of regular screenings. “Gardasil could prevent someone’s daughter from getting cervical cancer,” he said.
“The fact that the FDA approved Gardasil to prevent the spread of the HPV virus in the U.S. should convince the Guyanese population and the rest of the Caribbean, and Latin America that it is an effective preventive medicine.