If you didn't believe us when we said guys should get the HPV vaccination before, maybe this will convince you: a new study found that nearly half of men may have the infection.
BuzzFeed reports a new study published in JAMA Oncology tested 1,868 men between the ages 18 and 59, finding that 45.2% of them had genital HPV, and of those men, 25.1% had at least one subtype of HPV known to cause cancer. Since another study found that only 22% of men had gotten a vaccine that protects against cancer-causing HPV, and only 10% of men eligible for the shot in the JAMA study had gotten the vaccine, these results aren't totally surprising.
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According to the Centers for Disease Control, Human Papillomavirus is the most common sexually transmitted infection. Anyone can get HPV, and it usually doesn't cause any symptoms or health issues, and goes away on its own. That said, certain types of HPV can cause cancer if they don't go away, including cancers of the cervix, vulva, vagina, penis, anus and throat. For women, there are HPV tests that screen for cervical cancer, but there's no approved or recommended HPV screening for men.
The study highlights that men may play a bigger role in spreading HPV than previously thought, meaning the more boys who get vaccinated the healthier we all may be. The reason not a lot of boys and men have the HPV vaccination is because a lot of common misconceptions have created stigma and misunderstanding around it according to cancer prevention, detection, and support group F Cancer. Many people believe HPV only affects women, that condoms completely prevent HPV, and their doctor will give them the shot if they need it. None of that is true, though, which is why we should all be seeking out the HPV shot if we're in the age range.
Currently, the CDC recommends everyone ages 11 and 12 should get the HPV vaccination. Males up to age 21 should get a "catch up" vaccination, if they didn't get it when they were 11 or 12, and all females should get the catch up shot up to age 26.
"This is something we can prevent," Heather Kun, executive director of F Cancer previously told Teen Vogue as part of their "Not US" campaign to prevent HPV. "We don't have to change how we eat, don't have to change how we exercise, don't even have to change the behavior."
The responsibility to prevent HPV isn't on one particular gender, your doctors, or your parents. It's up to each of us to ask for what we need, and research shows we need this vaccination.
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