A new study revealed that about one out of every nine American men aged 18 to 69 is infected with oral human papillomavirus, a sexually transmitted disease that may lead to cancer.
The trend calls for a renewed focus on the HPV vaccine, which is currently available but unfortunately has limitations in protecting men from the disease.
HPV Infection Alarming Among American Men
The study, released in the Annals of Internal Medicine, found that oral HPV infection rates in the United States are 11.5 percent of men and 3.2 percent of women, translating to 11 million men and only 3.2 million women.
An oral HPV infection is most likely for people with multiple oral sex partners, men who have had sex with other men, and those who also have a genital HPV infection.
A person infected with HPV, which can be transmitted through skin-to-skin contact, may lead to cancer in several parts of the body, such as the throat, penis, vagina, and anus. The most common cancer that is caused by oral HPV is oropharyngeal squamous cell carcinoma, which is a head and neck cancer that is much more common to be found among men than women.
HPV 16, the most common high-risk form of the disease, was found in six times more men than women at 1.8 percent and 0.3 percent, respectively. It was found to be the most prevalent in men from 50 years old to 69 years old.
There is an available HPV vaccine that is recommended for children to receive at 11 or 12 years of age, which would provide them protection from the STD before they become sexually active. However, as of last year, only about half of girls and even fewer boys availed the vaccine. The HPV vaccine is only recommended for people up to 26 years old, leaving out many men as too old to receive the shots.
Growing Risk Of HPV
The new study follows the results of previous research into the growing risk of the STD.
In January, a study found that about 45 percent of American men and women were infected with genital HPV. However, men are more likely to stay infected with the cancer-causing STD as they get older.
In April, a report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that studied data from 2011 to 2014 revealed that about 23 percent of American adults suffered from high-risk HPV. The CDC also said that the HPV infection rate is higher among men than women.