Why Gay Men Need to Take the HPV Vaccine

An image of medicine and an HPV Vaccine on top of a paper that says 'papilloma virus'.

Have you gotten your HPV vaccine?

Over the past 5 years, the HPV vaccine has been made widely available for both women and men. Many health organizations are happy about this. They want it to be taken as early as possible. For example, the CDC suggests that kids between ages 11 and 12 get two doses of the vaccine. The younger they get vaccinated, the likelier it is to get rid of this widespread virus.

HPV is the most common sexually transmitted infection (STI). It can be spread through sex or skin-to-skin contact. There are 150 different types of the virus. Because of this, a large majority of sexually active people have had HPV at some point in their lives. But more often than not, it goes away without causing any health problems. Lasting HPV, however, can lead to genital warts or certain kinds of cancer.

As a precaution, everyone should take an HPV vaccine. Unfortunately, only a handful of countries approves of men taking it. This does not help prevent the virus from spreading. HPV is too common of a virus for this to happen. Sexually active men need to take this vaccine. Gay men especially.

The Need for Gay Men to Take the HPV Vaccine

Recent studies have shown that anal cancer is most often caused by HPV. They also note that men who have sex with men (MSM) are more likely to get anal cancer than men who only have sex with women. The prevalence of anal HPV is around 45% more common among MSM. Numbers like these make it clear that HPV is a greater risk to gay men.

Gay men with HIV are also greatly affected by HPV. One study showed that 77% of MSM with HIV were also infected with anal HPV. And another showed that 90% of them were infected with at least one type of HPV. These numbers are startlingly high.

As HPV awareness rises, there needs to be a push to start vaccinating men. Too many are at risk. And gay men are uniquely susceptible. Proving them with proper care for this virus will save a lot of lives.

HPV is a Risk Factor for HIV

HPV is a Risk Factor HIV: Study Confirms

The most common Sexually Transmitted Disease (STD) in the United States today is human papillomavirus (HPV). How common is it? Most sexually active men and women will get some form of HPV in their life, with an average of about 79 million Americans carrying the virus each year. Fortunately, HPV is rarely life-threatening, and though it has been linked to some forms of cervical cancer, this too is uncommon. Moreover, precancerous signs can be treated. In view of this fact, many doctors refer to HPV as the “common cold” of STDs. Because HPV is so common in the United States, and around the world, doctors usually never screen women for it until they are over the age of thirty. Unfortunately, no known HPV screening process exists for men, which is unfortunate as a study has confirmed that HPV is a risk factor for HIV.

The study linking these two STDs was performed in Kenya, a country where both HIV and HPV is very common. Research indicated that those with HPV, for various reasons, were 300 percent more likely to contract HIV. More surprising was this statistic was found to be true for both women and men.

It is perhaps to be expected that the likelihood of cancer resulting from HPV infections increases with each new exposure. One of the startling findings from this research, however, is the odds of contracting HIV immediately increases with only one infection of HPV. Therefore, if you are sexually active, it is highly encouraged that you receive an HPV vaccination.

This is important for a few reasons. First of all, there is no vaccine for HIV. So, anything a person can do to reduce the risk of contracting HIV is well worth it. Second, although an HPV vaccination is not inexpensive, this is nothing compared to the cost of cancer treatment, or of the daily cocktail of antiretroviral treatments that are needed to counteract HIV.

Hopefully, now that we know that HPV is a risk factor for HIV, it will encourage people to get vaccinated for HPV. This is a simple step that you can take to protect yourself, not only from HPV, but from the potential of contracting both cervical cancer and HIV.

HIV Drug That Treats Other Infections

HIV Drug That Treats Other Infections: Medication Re-Purposing

You may be familiar with the idea of re-purposing: Just spend some time on Pinterest and you can find all sorts of ideas on ways to reuse items for fashion, home décor, furniture and the like. Repurposing can work for medication as well. Take, for example, some of the antiretroviral drugs that are helping HIV-infected patients have a more normal life expectancy. We have now identified an HIV drug that treats other infections.

A recent study showed one of these drugs can be effective against one of the most prevalent and dangerous diseases of our time. Human papillomavirus, or HPV, is a widespread sexually transmitted disease and an imminent danger due to its strong link to cervical cancer in women. The combination of the rapid spread of this disease across the country (and the whole world) combined with the sheer number of cancers it can cause, has made this a matter of public concern.

A study in Kenya showed that people are three times more likely to end up with HIV if they have ever been infected with HPV. Because of the prevalence in that nation of people ending up with both conditions, studies were conducted in order to see if any HIV drugs in particular would be effective against HPV. A ‘two birds with one stone’ approach, if you will. It was found that the HIV therapy drug Lopinavir could help treat HPV, even if the patient was already in a precancerous stage. This is certainly good news. Hopefully, once the drug has finished clinical trials, it can begin commercial use in the U.S. to help those with HPV.

Finding an HIV drug that treats other infections is clearly good news. However, prevention is far better than a cure. So, what can we do to protect ourselves? A vaccine for HPV exists and it is important to use this option to protect yourself from the virus and from the cancers that HPV can cause. Of course, you should check with your doctor and see if this is the best option for you.

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