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Unveiling the Unspoken: Women and Doctors Taking on HPV Taboos in Egypt

Egyptian women and doctors are breaking taboos and facing major challenges to raise awareness of the dangers of human papillomavirus (HPV) in the country.

HPV is a virus that is transmitted through sexual contact and affects both men and women. It can cause genital warts and is linked to cervical cancer. In Egypt, the virus is a major public health risk, yet there is often silence and lack of awareness regarding the virus and its consequences.

To address this lack of education, Dr. Hend Azab, an obstetrician-Gynecologist from Cairo, began a campaign called HPV Unveiled in 2017 to raise public awareness about HPV and to argue against the taboos associated with the virus. According to her, there is a lack of knowledge and a reluctance to address the issue of HPV because of societal taboos on discussing safe sex, masturbation, and pre-marital sex. Through her campaign, Dr. Azab hopes to challenge and eliminate the misunderstandings and taboos around HPV in Egypt.

Now, Dr. Azab has teamed up with UNWomen and other agencies to form a coalition which works to promote the rights of women in Egypt. The coalition aims to teach women about their bodily rights in order to foster a culture of respect for women’s bodies, and to raise awareness about HPV and other related issues. In 2020, they launched a multimedia campaign called #ProudToBeMySelf to educate and empower women and girls about their rights and to challenge the stigma of HPV.

Women in Egypt have faced many difficulties in breaking traditional taboos and attitudes surrounding HP V due to a lack of education and awareness. By empowering women with knowledge and information, the coalition hopes to create a safe and healthy environment for all. With increased knowledge and better education, the campaign on HPV is an important step forward in breaking down the walls of silence surrounding HPV in Egypt.

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