KYANNA Black Nurses Association of Louisville
KYANNA Black Nurses Association of Louisville

Ta’Neka Vaden has focused her career on empowering women to make informed health decisions.

Vaden, a women’s health nurse practitioner who received her BSN from the University of Louisville School of Nursing in 2006, will speak at the KYANNA Black Nurses Association of Louisville’s 2016 Annual Scholarship and Leadership Conference, which takes place from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. April 9 at Crowne Plaza Hotel, 830 Phillips Lane.

The conference will focus on women’s health issues and Vaden will speak about prevention, detection and treatment of the human papillomavirus, the most common sexually-transmitted infection in the United States.

HPV is so common that almost all sexually-active men and women get the virus at some point in their lives, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Nearly 80 million people have HPV, and about 14 million new infections occur annually.

“A lot of women don’t realize HPV is sexually transmitted,” said Vaden, DNP, APRN, assistant professor of nursing at Bellarmine University. “It can be prevented and detected early and there are treatment options, but a lot of women aren’t aware of this.”

The CDC recommends children ages 11 and 12 receive vaccinations against HPV. An infected person can spread the virus even when he or she shows no symptoms.

Vaden frequently treats women with HPV. In most cases, the virus goes away on its own without causing health problems, but it puts women at risk for cervical cancer.

Kentucky has one of the highest rates of HPV-associated cervical cancer in the country, according to the CDC, and there is disparity in how the virus affects different races. Across the country, black and Hispanic women have higher rates of HPV-associated cervical cancer than other ethnicities and black women also have higher rates of HPV-associated vaginal cancer, according to the CDC.

Vaden attributes this to a lack of knowledge about the virus and poor access to health care, which has begun to improve since the Affordable Care Act took effect.

“Most young women don’t have candid conversations with their doctors,” Vaden said. “I think for African-American women, they would love to have medical care from another African-American woman who can understand some of the things they go through from a cultural perspective.”

Other speakers at KYANNA’s conference include Jessica Dowe, a family physician and graduate of UofL’s School of Medicine, and the Rev. Yvonne McCoy, founder of The Transformation Institute, an integrative medicine practice that provides holistic healing sessions.