Cervical cancer affects 5 out of 100,000 women in developed countries, whereas in Costa Rica those affected are about 28 per year, and most cases come from rural areas.
Because of this, Paula González, director of the Costa Rican Agency for Biomedical Research (ACIB) concluded that cervical cancer is a disease that prefers women with fewer resources.
According to González, there is less access to specialized health services in rural areas of the country; and cultural factors such as male chauvinism, do not help women to prevent these diseases.
Limón in an example of this. Mortality rate from this kind of cancer was 4.7 deaths per 100,000 cases in 2014. However only in Limón, mortality rate was 8.09 deaths per 100,000 cases that year.
Behind this diagnosis, the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) jumps to the stage with a starring role, since the virus is responsible for 100% of cases of cervical cancer, 86% of anal cancer, 30% of vulvar cancer, 25% of penile cancer and 20% of mouth cancer.
González is committed to strengthen early detection of HPV to curb the incidence and mortality due to this type of cancer and explained that the virus is directly related to people’s sexual habits.
80% of women who initiated sex after being 18 years old got the virus in the first 5 years into the sexual life.
Only a totally monogamous couple, -from the first sexual encounter- is exempt from acquiring the virus.
There are more than 100 types of HPV, but only 12 are related to cancer development, which would appear 20 years later in women. That is, that early detection of this virus would be the best option to fight this type of cancer.
Last year, the Costa Rican Social Security Fund started a pilot program to detect the virus in women of Puntarenas. This year it was extended to more than 4,500 women and it’s expected to be implemented in two years across the country.