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Should You Consider the HPV Vaccine?

Hey there Guys,

In yesterday’s post I was discussing safe oral sex and some important conditions that were easily spread via oral sex. In the last section I discussed the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV), and it’s association not just with warts, but also cancer of the mouth and throat. Today I wanted to talk a little bit more about the HPV virus and also about a HPV vaccine, Gardasil, that is currently available that may help reduce cancers in the future.

So what is the HPV virus?

The HPV virus also called the wart virus is very common in the community. Currently over 200 strains have been discovered. Most a fairly benign, however 4 strains of the HPV virus: 6, 11, 16 and 18, have been associated with not only genital warts but also cancers of the mouth, throat, anus and in women, the cervix.

Currently in Australia many young women have been vaccinated against these strains with the HPV vaccine Gardasil. While that’s great to help prevent cervical cancer in women it ignores the fact that men can also suffer with the consequences of HPV virus infection. Highest at risk are gay men. To quote the Center For Health Justice blog.

Compared to the general population, gay and bisexual men are nearly 20 times more likely to get anal cancer, and men who have sex with men (MSM) who are HIV-positive are up to 40 times more likely than the general population to develop anal cancer. In light of the disproportionate risk faced by MSM, and especially HIV-positive MSM, routine HPV vaccination is a tremendously important prevention initiative that will help protect men at high-risk of HPV infections and anal cancer. Routine HPV vaccination for boys will likely lead to a reduced incidence of anal cancer over time.

And as discussed at Science Alert Australia:

A recent study published in the New England Journal of Medicine found that gay men who were vaccinated against HPV developed 75 per cent fewer anal lesions that lead to cancer than their counterparts who were given a placebo.

For a good round up of the consequences of HPV infection and good reasoning men should consider the HPV vaccine Gardasil check out this clip from the ABC’s Hungry Beast:

The key to remember with the HPV vaccine is that we need to aim for vaccination before you get infected with the virus which is why the Center for Disease Control in the USA has now voted that males age 11-21 should receive the Gardasil vaccine. This age is increased to 26 for men who have sex with men.

Unfortunately the HPV vaccine is not funded in Australia. An application for this vaccine to be available to boys in Australia was rejected due to “unacceptably high and uncertain cost-effectiveness” as reported in the Star Observer.

Currently if you wish to be vaccinated against HPV the cost of the three Gardasil injections are around $460. Yes it’s expensive but certainly worth considering. I highly recommend having a talk with your doctor if you feel this may be useful for you.

Have you considered the vaccination? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

Yours in good health.

Dr George

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