From fellow elected officials to regular New Yorkers, City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito has seen an onslaught of support after revealing on Twitter on Sunday night that she has high-risk HPV.
The speaker, 45, who was in Puerto Rico this weekend, retweeted many of the remarks from Twitter users who were touched by her candid announcement. Mark-Viverito, who said on Twitter that a biopsy was needed as soon as possible, thanked her followers for their words.
“Just arrived back in #NYC & continue to be overwhelmed by love & support. I’m taking tomorrow head on! Thank you all! #hpv #takethetest,” she posted Monday.
Health experts say Mark-Viverito’s reveal on Twitter and the discussion its created are important steps in raising awareness for the disease.
HPV, short for the Human Papillomavirus, is the nation’s most common sexually transmitted infection, according to the Centers for Disease Control, and can lead to cervical cancer. There is no treatment for the virus, but there is a vaccine.
Dr. Linda Prine said, “It’s always good when prominent women are open about their health issues. It decreases shame and stigma when we can talk about health issues openly,” she said.
Mark-Viverito's openness did elicit a lot of positive feedback from users who also spread the message to women to visit their doctor for information on the disease.
“So inspired by courage of NYC Speaker @MMViverito for disclosing her recent HPV diagnosis #knowledgeispower #gettested,” Twitter user Annie Tatreau posted.
Several of her Council colleagues also used Twitter to voice their support after she made the announcement.
“Just saw, my prayers are with you. Hope your courageous sharing inspires others to take this health issue seriously,” City Councilman Rory Lancman tweeted.
Mayor Bill de Blasio said he talked with the Mark-Viverito about her condition and praised her for being open. De Blasio said he respected her decision to go to social media about the news and said it will help raise awareness for the disease and encourage more discussions.
“I think it speaks to her desire to go right to the people with the message and say that, you know, she is using her own life as an example to inspire them to take care of themselves and their loved ones and get the screening they need,” he told reporters at a news conference.
--With Sheila Anne Feeney and Emily Ngo