HPV becomes concern for males

By Jamie Hufnagle
April 12, 2007

While recent attention has been focused on the human papillomavirus in women, recent studies have shown that males may have a reason to be just as concerned.

As many as 60 percent of men ages 18 to 70 are infected with HPV, according to an article in the Los Angeles Times. Questions have been raised on whether the new vaccine will be effective in reducing diseases linked to the virus unless both men and women are immunized.

Several studies are being conducted in order to better understand HPV in males and whether the new HPV vaccine, Gardasil, will also work for them. The new data confirms that HPV is not solely a women’s issue but an issue for males as well.

HPV is well known for causing cervical cancer in women. Gardasil, the new vaccine, is given in a three-shot series and was approved last year for girls and women ages 9 to 26.

John Sarge, a senior at West Chester University, was not aware of the recent studies that are underway in order to conquer an understanding of HPV in males.

“As a young male, it’s great to know that attention is shifting toward the effect it will have on males, especially my age. It’s important to look at both sides and decide whether the vaccine will change the way this disease is spread,” Sarge said.

It is known that men transmit HPV to women but what remains unknown is the exact rate of transmission.

Sophomore English and communication major Christina Michaluk hadn’t heard of the recent studies but felt that the vaccine is important for men to consider.

“If it means preventing someone from getting the virus, I think guys should also get the vaccination. If it helps to save more lives, it’s a great idea for men to get the shot as well,” Michaluk said.

Many experts are suggesting that everyone is vaccinated in order to reduce the circulation of the virus in the population.

“If you decrease HPV infection in men, then there will be decreased transmission to women also,” Dr. Dean Blumberg, associate professor of pediatric infectious disease at UC Davis, said in an article in the Los Angeles Times.

Merck is the company who produces Gardasil and is currently conducting studies of the vaccine’s ability to prevent infection in boys and men. The company has hopes that they will be able to market Gardasil to not only women, but to boys and men as well.

Studies of Gardasil have shown that the vaccine stimulates an even stronger immune response in boys than in girls. According to Blumberg, this could imply that the vaccine will also prevent HPV infections.

“It can’t hurt to administer the vaccine to males as well. If it can possibly prevent this disease from spreading, then it makes sense to take that step and hope for the best, Lauren Mattioni, sophomore social work major, said.

Studies are still underway on whether this vaccination should be administered to males as well. In the meantime, it has been reported that several males have already spoken with their doctors about receiving the vaccine.

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Jamie Hufnagle

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