HPV: Humankind is not that nice to men


Dear Doctor. G.,

I’m quite curious after reading about HPV infections in men; I think most people would agree that HPV is a condition that affects women and as such I am at a loss as to why the HPV vaccination should apply to men?

I am a 32 year old straight man, my wife and I have been married for two years and we are fortunate enough to have a beautiful son.

When I read that boys are more prone to HPV infections, I thought about getting myself and my son protected in the future.

To be honest, I’m a little confused, how a disease that predominantly affects women can affect men too?

In the spirit of Movember November, I hope Dr. G. to bring to the point about HPV infections and vaccinations for men.

Can HPV Infections Affect Men? If so, does it lead to serious illness like in women? Is HPV infection more common in men who have sex with other men?

I also read somewhere that men are more prone to HPV than women, why?

I also understand that countries like Australia ensure that both boys and girls are vaccinated against HPV to eradicate cervical cancer; How can vaccinating boys help?

Can you explain in principle why men are more prone to HPV?


Protective papa

HPV, or the human papillomavirus, is a widespread virus that can be transmitted through direct skin-to-skin contact. There are more than 150 subtypes of HPV virus, nearly 40 of which are transmitted through sexual contact. As a result, the virus is often considered to be the most common form of sexually transmitted infection, and almost all sexually active men and women would get the virus at some point in their life.

In most cases of HPV transmission, the infected individuals can eliminate the virus through the host’s natural immunity. However, certain strains of HPV persist, leading to debilitating genital warts and cancer. It is known that HPV infections are responsible for all cases of genital warts and about 5% of all new cancers in men and women worldwide. HPV is known to be responsible for 100% of cervical cancers worldwide. In addition, HPV also causes 88% of anal cancers, 70% of vaginal cancers, 43% of vulvar cancers, and is also associated with oral and penile cancers.

Studies have shown that men, ironically, are more prone to HPV infections than women. They also showed that HPV infection affects all sexually active men, not just a small group of men who have sex with men. HPV infections are common in both men and women during their first sexually active years.

Infections seem to naturally decrease with age in women, but remain persistently high in men, resulting in high rates of infection in all age groups in men. One such observation is associated with men who have low seroconversion rates after viral infections. The exact reason for such susceptibility in men is not known, but it is believed that men’s natural immunity to the HPV virus is poor compared to women.

Men also have other vulnerabilities to HPV infection as they are more susceptible to new and recurring infections. The woman-to-man transmission rate of HPV is higher with an infection rate of 12.3 per 1000 people / month than 7.3 per 1000 people / month for transmission from men to women. Finally, female HPV screening is common in most countries, but routine HPV screening does not exist in men. This leads to the fact that the disease is detected in men at much later stages.

Since the association of HPV infection with cancer was identified in 1982, scientists have worked hard to develop a vaccine that can prevent the virus from being transmitted in the first place. In 2006, the first HPV vaccines were launched against the critical HPV subtypes 6, 11, 16 and 18, which protect up to 70% of cervical cancers and genital warts.

Subsequent development of the vaccine, which prevents the transmission of 9 types of HPV, was approved by the regulatory authority in 2014 and has proven successful, as the additional protection against HPV 31, 33, 45, 52 and 58 has been shown to be up to 90. prevents% of cancers.

For the past decade, the World Health Organization (WHO) has put the vaccine on its must-have drugs list and recommends routine vaccinations for girls in countries that can afford them. Although the vaccines have been shown to protect boys from genital warts and cancer, and even create herd immunity for both sexes, parents in most countries have to vaccinate their sons out of their own pocket.

A gender-neutral vaccination program is routine in only a handful of countries, however, and Australia is currently leading the initiative for such an initiative and will likely be the first to eradicate cervical cancer in women while protecting boys from debilitating HPV-related diseases.

On November 19, International Men’s Day celebrates the positive value that men bring to the world, their families and their communities. One of the six pillars of International Men’s Day is to improve gender relations and promote equality between men and women. In general, men are considered to be vulnerable to physical and mental health. This is likely related to men taking more risks. With regard to HPV, it is also evident that men are more prone to certain diseases as men are shown to have lower immune protection, resulting in higher prevalence and recurrence of infections.

If nature is not so kind to people, helping hands of science may offer protection. Given the different life expectancies of men and women, it is clear that there are intrinsic and extrinsic reasons why “humanity is not too kind to men”, especially when it comes to HPV infections.

Dr. G. is often brought to the point because of his opinion on the gender-neutral HPV vaccination. In keeping with International Men’s Day, his opinion is: “If the virus does not discriminate against infecting both sexes, why should we do it with the HPV vaccination?”


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