Genital warts outbreak forces Vietnam province to dig deeper

By Phuong Trang   July 18, 2017 | 08:37 pm PT
10 families believe their young sons were infected while receiving unlicensed treatment from a local nurse.

Health authorities in Vietnam's northern province of Hung Yen are investigating a rare case of a genital warts outbreak which they suspect is connected to an unlicensed examination service offered by a local nurse.

At least 39 boys aged between six months and 15 years old in the province have been diagnosed with the HPV-infection this month.

Genital warts are caused by some strains of HPV, which can cause vulva, penile and anal cancer. The disease is often but not always transmitted sexually.


A boy receives treatment for genital warts at a hospital in Hanoi. Photo by VnExpress/Nam Phuong

Health inspectors have been talking to Hoang Thi Hien, the local nurse who provided phimosis treatment for boys in the province several months ago at her unlicensed home clinic.

At least 10 families have lodged complaints against Hien, but she has denied any connection to the problem.

She said she had not used any invasive methods, and only cleaned the boys’ penises and gave them anti-inflammatory medicine.

“I used new gloves for each patient. They all recovered after a couple visits,” she said.

Some families said she had lied to them by saying she was a doctor, not a nurse.

Pham Thi Nhu, the grandmother of one of the boys, said Hien used a pair of medical scissors to check her grandson's foreskin in May, which caused bleeding.

“A month later, we found growths around his penis. We were surprised when a doctor said he had genital warts,” Nhu said.

The National Hospital of Dermatology and Venereology, where some of the boys are being treated in Hanoi, said it had treated 59 children with genital warts in the past two months, some of whom were from the capital.

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