LOUISVILLE, Ky. —A Louisville doctor has launched an initiative to help fight a cervical cancer epidemic in Haiti.
Dr. Robert Hilgers developed The Women’s Global Cancer Alliance, a nonprofit organization fueled by donations.
Human papillomavirus (HPV) is a sexually transmitted disease that can cause cervical cancer.
Women in the U.S. are educated about the virus and can get vaccinated, but developing countries have no such resources.
“The unfortunate part, for about 90 percent of the women in Haiti, is the fact that there is no vaccine available,” Hilgers said.
There is very little screening in Haiti, and no cancer treatment centers, according to Hilgers.
“(That) means they also do not have radiation therapy, which is vital for women who have cancer of the cervix,” Hilgers said.
He said a diagnosis of cervical cancer in Haiti is almost always fatal.
“Cancer of the cervix has been identified as an epidemic in Haiti. (It’s the) highest incident of cancer in the cervix in the world, (and) we have a chance to eliminate it,” Hilgers said.
That’s why Hilgers developed the Women’s Global Cancer Alliance.
He opened a free clinic in Haiti to screen patients through a preventive treatment.
“(We’re) painting the cervix with just ordinary household vinegar and identifying if there (are) pre-cancer cells on the cervix with medical binoculars,” Hilgers said.
He said if a lesion is detected, it’s frozen off.
Hilgers said the nonprofit needs community support to keep the mission in motion.
“We need supplies, we need renewal of medical equipment,” he said.
Hilgers hopes to eventually offer HPV vaccines in Haiti, where he will return next month.
A fundraiser, “A Night in Haiti,” is scheduled from 6 to 9 p.m. Wednesday at Gingerwoods off Brownsboro Road in Prospect.
A $50 donation is suggested.
For more information on how you can help visit http://www.womensgca.org/.