Half of American men are infected with HPV according to a recent study just released this past Monday. It's well known that the Human Papiloma Virus (HPV) causes warts and cancer of the genital and anus in both males and females but recently scientists have discovered that it can also cause head and neck cancers. While there are hundreds of strains, only some cause cancer. HPV 16 is the strain that's been linked to 90% of head and neck cancers. Having multiple partners increases your risk. In fact, "the risk of cancer-causing HPV infection was 2.4 times higher for men who had had 50 or more female partners, compared to men with one or no partners." Oral sex is one of the main ways HPV is transmitted from the genitals to the mouth. It can also be spread by the fingers and kissing. Currently there's no way to detect it orally before it progresses to cancer but researchers at our very own Johns Hopkins are working on developing a test. Another avenue would be to promote widespread HPV vaccination for males. In recent years more and more teen girls and young women have been vaccinated. However HPV vaccination, though available, is not a common practice among males. This study may well spark a public health discussion regarding the need to promote male vaccinaction since HPV is easily transmitted from men to women and greatly affects women's risk of disease.
Gardasil is available through the Student Health and Wellness Center and is covered by most insurance companies. Call 410-516-8270 or stop in SHWC to find out more!