Monday, March 7, 2011

In Scary News: New Study Finds Half of Men May Have HPV

A new study finds that about 50 percent of men may be infected by human papillomavirus. What does that mean for us women?

-Faye Brennan,

Hopefully, you've heard about human papillomavirus, or HPV, the genital wart virus that can cause cervical cancer -- the second most common cancer found in women. Perhaps you got the 3-shot Gardasil vaccine from your gynocologist to help protect yourself from it.
But a new study shows that women aren't the only ones who should be concerned about HPV. According to Reuters, Researchers at H Lee Moffitt Cancer Center and Research Institute in Tampa, Florida examined the HPV rates in men from the U.S., Brazil and Mexico. Of the 1,100 males tested, 50 percent had the infection. The study also found that 6 percent of men will contract a string of the cancer-causing HPV virus per year.
So, why is this scary? Currently, HPV vaccinations like Gardasil are only recommended to females in the U.S. Though males can get vaccinated if they want, they are not encouraged to by our country's health officials.
Since HPV is spread through sexual contact, this means that men infected with the virus who haven't been vaccinated may be giving it to women when they have sex, which is a frightening thought. Not to mention, men may also be passing it to one another during intercourse, which can lead to anal, penile, head and neck cancers, says Reuters.
This study suggest that vaccinating men is just as important as vaccinating women. But of course, cost is an issue--an HPV vaccine currently costs about $500--which is making officials debate whether or not encouraging it is "worth it." (Reuters)

Faye Brennan is assistant editor at BettyConfidential.

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