Genital human papillomavirus, or HPV, is an infection which affects a very large chunk of Americans. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, it is the most common sexually-transmitted disease in the United States.
HPV is most commonly associated with cervical cancer in women; however, the virus has several different strains and according to a CDC report, affects men more than women. According to the CDC, more than one in five adult men in the country have high-risk HPV.
Over 40 strains of the virus exist and infection in men usually affects the genital areas, mouth, and throat.
Statistics Of The Infection In The United States
To assess exactly how widespread the infection is, the CDC analyzed data collected from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey from 2011 to 2014. The analysis revealed that between 2013 and 2014, 4 out of 10 Americans between 18 years and 59 years were infected with genital HPV.
In the overall study period, researchers found that around 42.5 percent of the people within this age group were infected by genital HPV. The study also revealed that around 45.2 percent of the men in the country were affected. By comparison, the infection was lower for women as 39.9 percent had the disease.
HPV Infection-Related Diseases In Men
Most men who get infected do not show any symptoms, but may pass the disease on to their sexual partners. However, infection with some strains causes genital warts in men. Other strains may lead to more serious medical conditions such as penile cancer, anal cancer, or throat cancer.
The CDC report also states that men with weakened immune systems, or men with HIV, are more susceptible to developing genital or throat cancers as a result of the HPV infection.
Detection And Treatment
Doctors have no way of testing for HPV in men and the only test that can be conducted is for screening cervical cancer in women. Unfortunately, this test cannot be used to detect HPV-related disorders in men.
CDC advises men to be on the lookout for any abnormalities in their genital areas. Should they find something, it is better to visit a doctor to get it checked out.
Once the infection is transmitted, there is no cure for the same. In most cases, the virus does not cause any symptoms. However, genital warts caused by the infection can be treated and cured. If the HPV virus causes penile, anal, or throat cancer, the infected individual must consult with a doctor and decide on a course of treatment, which may include radiation and chemotherapy.
However, there is a vaccine — dubbed Gardasil — which is known to prevent some strains of HPV. This was previously used only for women, to prevent cervical cancer. However, doctors now advise that men and boys below the age of 26 should be vaccinated with three doses of the medication.
"These viruses affect men and women. Let's stop thinking about HPV [vaccine] as only a cervical cancer vaccine," said William Schaffner of Vanderbilt University Medical Center.