Friday, 25 August 2017

LUTH Debunks Fake Social Media Story about HPV

Rebecca Ejifoma
The Management of the Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH) Idi-Araba has denied and condemned a story allegedly ascribed to an unnamed “senior LUTH Doctor” purporting to have attributed the cause of death of 13 persons in the hospital to the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV).

The Chief Medical Director, Prof Chris Bode said this on Wednesday in LUTH. “Let me state unequivocally that, no doctor made such a claim from this Institution, nobody died of any ‘strange disease’ in LUTH and HPV does not cause sudden mass deaths in humans.”

He decried that it seemed many people had discovered the freedom of expression unleashed by the new-found passion for social media, its attendant responsibilities are yet to be appreciated. “Otherwise, what does it benefit the purveyor(s) of such wickedly mischievous  falsities who unleash  such misinformation to cause mass anxiety without informing, entertaining or educating the populace?”

Bode added that for quite some time, it has been a regular feature on social media and mass email messages to put up some spurious claims and then give it traction by attributing it to “a senior doctor in LUTH”. He described their hospital as esteemed and did nothing to attract such a reputation. “We should check popular sites such as Wikipedia to verify any such spurious claims and establish the truthfulness of any unhelpful and misleading information.”

According to the CMD, medical literature informs us that the human papillomavirus causes a number of diseases in man, and the ordinary wart is the commonest of these. The virus is also known to cause cancer of the cervix in females, genital cancer and cancer of the throat.

He continued that occasionally, it can spread from a mother to her baby during pregnancy. “The virus is found only in humans and it can be transmitted through sexual contact and infect the anus and genitals. HPV vaccines can prevent the most common types of infection and it is now recommended to be given in young girls between the ages of 9 and 13 to prevent cervical cancer.”

Although warts have been documented since the time of ancient Greece, Bode said that its viral nature was described over a hundred years ago, stating that it is absurd to attribute the discovery of this old disease to any LUTH doctor and it damages the ethical standards of the Nigerian Medical community when such reckless claims are made.

He said that there are well laid down peer-reviewed protocols for  doctors announcing the emergence of any new disease. It is not through social media nor by outlandish unsubstantiated claims from anonymous sources.

He queried: “Why then make such claims? Perhaps someone secretly chuckles at the discomfiture of  many who are alarmed by the falsehood. We may just be witnessing to what dastardly ends others are willing to deploy the gift of the social media to humanity.

"Furthermore, the paucity of correct information in the public space allows the propagation of these untruths. Whatever the reasons, there is need to reign in such unworthy motives and drown out the cacophony of such cranks through robust dissemination of correct information. This should be a partnership between the medical profession and the press, with the active support of all stakeholders.”

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