Menstuff® has compiled the following information on
information women should know about HPV.
Study: Half Of Men May Be Infected With
What is HPV?
Study: Half Of Men May Be Infected With
U.S. vaccine advisers have been weighing whether boys and young men should be vaccinated against the human papillomavirus, as they already recommend for girls and young women, but some worry the vaccine is too costly to justify its use.
(Editor's warning: There is too much evidence that Merck's vaccine Gardasil is detrimental to girls health and should not be given.)
HPV infection is best known as the primary cause of cervical cancer, the second most common cancer in women worldwide. But various strains of HPV also cause anal, penile, head and neck cancers. Vaccinating men and boys would prevent some of these cancers.
Anna Giuliano of the H Lee Moffitt Cancer Center and Research Institute in Tampa, Florida, and colleagues studied infection rates among more than 1,100 men aged 18 to 70 in the United States, Brazil and Mexico to get a snapshot of the natural progression of HPV infection in men.
``We found that there is a high proportion of men who have genital HPV infections. At enrollment, it was 50 percent,'' said Giuliano, whose study appears online in the journal Lancet.
The team also found that the rate at which men acquire new HPV infections is very similar to women.
And they found that about 6 percent of men per year will get a new HPV 16 infection, the strain that is known for causing cervical cancer in women and other cancers in men.
Vaccines made by Merck & Co and GlaxoSmithKline both offer protection against this strain of HPV.
``The biology seems to be very similar (to women),'' Giuliano said in a telephone interview.
``What is different is men seem to have high prevalence of genital HPV infections throughout their lifespans.''
She said it appears that women are better able to clear an HPV infection, especially as they age, but men do not appear to have this same ability.
Vaccine experts said the study builds momentum for widespread HPV vaccination among boys.
Currently, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends Gardasil vaccinations for girls and women between the ages of 11 and 26. Gardasil had sales of more than $1 billion last year.
And while doctors are free to use the vaccine in boys and men ages 9 through 26, U.S. health officials so far have declined to recommend routine vaccination for males.
``This study highlights the high incidence of HPV infection in men, which emphasizes their role in transmission of HPV to women,'' Dr. Anne Szarewski of the Wolfson Institute of Preventive Medicine in London said in a statement.
``It must surely strengthen the argument for vaccination of men, both for their own protection, and that of their partners.''
In December, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved Merck's Gardasil HPV vaccine for prevention of anal cancers in both men and women, based on studies showing Gardasil was effective in men who have sex with men, a group that has a higher incidence of anal cancer.
Anal cancer is one of the less common types of cancer, with an
estimated 5,300 new U.S. cases diagnosed each year, but the incidence
What is HPV?
How is HPV transmitted?
The types of HPV found in the genital areas are usually passed on during sexual contact (sexually transmitted). HPV types that cause warts on the hands or feet do not cause genital warts or cervical cell changes, nor do genital HPV types generally spread outside the genital area.
Genital HPV is usually acquired by direct skin-to-skin contact during intimate sexual contact with someone who is infected. Most men and women are not aware that they have the virus. Condoms do not offer complete protection from HPV. Increasing numbers of partners increases the risk of getting HPV, but the virus is so common that having only a single lifetime partner does not assure protection. It is usually impossible to determine when or from whom HPV was caught. HPV may be detected fairly soon after exposure, or may not be found until many years later. For all these reasons, it is not helpful, nor fair to blame your partner.
How common is HPV?
HPV is the most common sexually transmitted virus. It has been estimated that 75% or more of sexually active Americans will contract HPV sometime in their lives. This means that anyone who has ever had sexual relations has a high chance of being exposed to this virus, but only a small number of women, and even fewer men, infected with HPV develop lesions that are detected or need to be treated. In almost all cases, the immune system will keep the virus under control or get rid of it completely.
Keep in mind it is rare for high-risk HPV to lead to cancer. In 2005, for example, the American Cancer Society estimates only about 1,750 cases of anal cancer will occur with men and that penile cancer will account for approximately 0.2% of all cancers in males.
Can HPV infections be treated?
There is currently no treatment available for the virus itself. However, good treatments do exist for the diseases HPV can cause, such as cell changes or genital warts. Your health care provider will discuss these treatment options with you, if you need them.
How are men screened for HPV?
Men are typically screened clinically with a visual inspection to check for lesions (such as warts) there is no specific way to test directly for HPV in men that is approved for clinical use. Researchers are looking at ways to better screen men, but the current lack of testing options for males can be very frustrating.
While still not routinely done, anyone with a history of receptive anal sex may want to speak with his or her health care provider about having an anal Pap test. Anal cancer is uncommon, but screening can still be an important precaution talk to your provider if you have questions.
What about partners?
Most sexually active couples share HPV until the immune response suppresses the infection. Partners who are sexually intimate only with each other are not likely to pass the same virus back and forth. When HPV infection goes away the immune system will remember that HPV type and keep a new infection of the same HPV type from occurring again. However, because there are many different types of HPV, becoming immune to one HPV type may not protect you from getting HPV again if exposed to another HPV type.