Do People Really Understand HPV?

Dr. James Metz
Dr. James Metz

So, I was thinking…

I don’t think the average individual really understands the risks associated with HPV (human papilloma virus). Many know that HPV is the cause of most cases of cervical cancer. In fact, vaccination is recommended for young females to prevent infection with the types of HPV that most often cause cervical cancer. We also know that HPV is is one cause of anal cancer. That is not talked about as much, perhaps because of the stigma of contracting HPV through anal sex – though anal sex is not necessary to contract HPV in the anal tissue, skin to skin contact is all that is needed.

How about another one – oral cancer? Yes, the most rapidly rising cause of oral cancer is now HPV. We tend to see it in young people without exposure to tobacco or alcohol, the traditional cause of oral cancers. Why?…oral sex, for one. Yes Mr. Clinton, oral sex is, well, sex. Infection with HPV causes cervical cancer, anal cancer, oral cancer, as well as penile and vaginal and vulvar cancers. And on another note, have you watched how many people do not wash their hands in a public bathroom? A recent study showed that in individuals with genital warts, 38% of women and 64% of men had detectable HPV on their fingertips. Wash your damn hands, because that can spread it too! Skin to skin contact spreads HPV also! HPV can be found on the scrotum and inner thigh, so unfortunately, a condom cannot fully prevent the spread of HPV.

So based on this, why aren’t all adolescents, both females and males, offered the vaccine for HPV? Do we really think just the females should be vaccinated? Shouldn’t the other half of some of these relationships get the vaccine too? Does society really think that kids who have alternative relationships down the road should not be protected from anal cancer? Do people really think their kids will not have sex outside of a single monogamous relationship with another that has never had any relationships before or after? Do people really believe that condoms are being used by most people having oral sex?

The current vaccines for HPV are recommended for girls, CAN be given to boys and are FDA approved in the United States. However, formal recommendations from medical associations are lacking for boys and young men. Come on medical organizations, get with it!

What do you think?

One thought on “Do People Really Understand HPV?

  1. Great points! Most people have their heads deep in the sand regarding its prevalence. This recent peer-reviewed article finds that, based on a sample from two US cities, 48% of 35-40 year old men are HPV positive (for the 4 strains that Gardasil prevents). The rates are even higher for higher risk categories such as smokers and multiple partners in the past 3 months.,_16,_18_Seroprevalence_in_Men_in_Two_US.1.aspx

    Furthermore, there are no tests in the U.S. that can tell a person the exact HPV type they might have outside of type 16 and 18. Why not? It’s available elsewhere:

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