The HPV vaccine is for men too.

Sexual Health 11 years ago (2011) Barbara
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UPDATE 10:26 am–news sources are talking about a recently published study (New England Journal of Medicine) showing that the HPV vaccine is indeed effective for men and should be promoted for men more.

read: HPV vaccine effective for men

It’s been quite a while since the HPV vaccine has been approved for men, but as per suggestion from one of my readers and friends, I thought I should remind everyone again. It is my personal opinion that everyone (and I mean *everyone*) should get the HPV vaccine (I am referring to Gardasil here, not Cervarix. Gardasil protects against 4 common strains of HPV.) Here are a few reasons for getting vaccinated:

  • Over 80% of the population will be infected with HPV in their lifetime. This is a staggeringly huge number, largely because many people will not have any symptoms of HPV after they’ve contracted it. This is especially dangerous because they will pass it on without ever knowing they have it.
  • There’s no way to test for HPV and you will only know you have it if a wart or growth emerges.  Since many strains don’t show warts, but only contribute increased risk for cancer, this could be a silent and deadly threat. I hate to spread fear regarding sex-related issues, but the solution is clear–the most common strains contributing to warts and cancer are preventable with the HPV vaccine–it doesn’t make any sense to put yourself at risk by going without the vaccine.
  • The HPV vaccine is 100% effective at preventing the 4 most common strains of HPV, protecting against the strains causing 70% of the instances of cervical cancer related to HPV. (A side note: HPV causes almost all of the cases of cervical cancer.)  Additionally, the vaccine provides protection against anal, penile, and vulval cancer as well as oral and throat cancers. This is not just for protecting against “female” cancers–HPV clearly affects men too though cervical cancer is much more common.
  • If you’re age 9-26, you could get the vaccine for free. Many places (Kaiser Permanente and Planned Parenthood, for instance) will provide free vaccinations for target populations.  These vaccinations are government subsidized.  If the cost of getting the vaccine is too prohibitive, try out different clinics and ask if you can get the vaccine low-cost or free with a small donation.
  • HPV causes cervical cancer–this fact is not often understood by the general public. If we prevent HPV by vaccinating, we can prevent many instances of cervical cancer.
  • Certainly, HPV is not the most dangerous STI–a large majority of the population has it, symptoms usually disappear on their own, and it rarely causes severe disease or death.  But it is highly preventable and regular pap smears combined with the vaccine can decrease risk for women.  However, the vaccine is the only way to decrease the risk of contraction for men. No, HPV isn’t the most dangerous STI, but it’s preventable and treatable. . . just not curable.

Stay Safe!

sources consulted:

Muñoz N, Bosch FX, Castellsagué X, Díaz M, de Sanjose S, Hammouda D, Shah KV, Meijer CJ (2004-08-20). “Against which human papillomavirus types shall we vaccinate and screen? The international perspective.”. Int J Cancer 111 (2): 278–85.

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