people have heard of the sexually transmitted disease – HPV or
human papillomavirus – which both men and women can be vaccinated
for. However, for now, detection is only possible in women, not men.
Why is that, if it’s a sexually transmitted disease? That’s a
good question, and to understand the reasoning for it, you have to
first understanding the particulars that comprise of HPV.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said one in four people
(80 million people) are infected with HPV, making it the most common
STD infection there is. 14 million new people are infected with the
STD every year. Though condoms can reduce the rate of transmission,
there is no foolproof protection against it.
makes this STD different is that you don’t even need to have sex to
get it. According to a 2015 stud in the Sexual Health journal, HPV is
transmitted in many other ways like from hands that have touched
genitals. The research discovered HPV was in the genital tract of
more than 50 percent of virgins. Still, HPV does spread from sexual
intercourse – be it anal or vaginal. It is possible to get it from
oral sex as well.
person with HPV may not even know they have the disease, showing no
symptoms such as genital warts. You could have it for years before
symptoms rear their ugly heads. This means you can’t know for sure
who you caught it from and you don’t know who you gave it to.
put, the number of people with HPV could be much, much higher than
HPV is common, it’s still a misunderstood disease and carries a
major stigma. The problem with HPV is that it affects both men and
women, leading to anal and cervical cancers. If that’s the case,
one has to wonder why men are not tested for HPV, spreading it to
women without them even knowing they have it.
Types of HPV
are literally dozens of HPV strains, with more than half of the 100+
strains being transmitted through sexual contact. Medical experts
believe all sexually active adults will contract some form of HPV in
their life. For the majority of people, the body can fight against
the virus and get rid of it without causing further harm.
on information from the Foundation of Women’s Cancer, the average
HPV infection is anywhere from four to 20 months and can clear up on
its own in two years’ time.
are two groups of HPV – low and high risk. Low-risk HPV causes the
anal or genital warts; high-risk HPV causes the cancers. Considering
the CDC says the majority of cervical cancer is the result of HPV,
not testing men for HPV puts women’s health at risk.
Are The Complications of HPV?
so many kinds of HPV, the chances of being diagnosed with anal,
cervical or oral cancer are increasing. Men who have HPV could have
genital warts, but it could also lead to cancer of the anus, penis or
throat. The HPV that causes cancer does not have any outward symptoms
like warts but may have other symptoms like itching, pain, anal
bleeding, discharge, etc.
symptoms of penile cancer may include an unusual growth on the penis,
color changes, thickening of the skin, etc. A person with constant
ear pain or sore throats could have cancer of their oropharynx.
study on 18 to 69-year-olds found that oral HPV is on the rise for
American men, which can also cause neck and head cancer. Oral HPV is
the result of oral sex with an infected person and affects the throat
and mouth. Oral HPV is far more common in men than in women – 11
million men have it while just 3.2 million have oral HPV.
experts said there is no current test for oral HPV and no way to stop
its transmission even when a condom or dental dam is used.
Again, why not HPV for men is available baffles people. After all, it’s clear that men can get the disease too and suffer its consequences. Why is there no test for it?
Experts Have To Say About It
no official HPV test for men is available, it means detecting it
isn’t easy either. Doctors find HPV in women during a pap smear.
However, men do not undergo any kind of regular genital exam, and
there isn’t an approved HPV exam for men either. Men who have HPV
show no outward symptoms, and it’s not easy to detect them on their
may be the reason there is no HPV test for men. For instance, the
tissue of the penis and anus are much tougher than the tissue in the
cervix. The cervix can be swabbed in a Pap test, but this is not the
situation for an anus or penis. Of course, anal Pap smear testing
can be done on men who have anal sex on a regular basis or who fall
into the high-risk category.
some experts believe that an HPV test for men does exist – a biopsy
of the patient’s genital, anal or oral regions that is then sent
off to pathology for examination to confirm an HPV infection. If
positive for an infection, then the kind of HPV can be made.
Further research is being carried out to ensure HPV male testing is accessible for more men. For example, Johns Hopkins researchers have come up with blood and saliva tests that can help predict relapses of HPV-related oral cancer, which is also being used to diagnose people with HPV oral infections.