There is great discussion regarding the impact infections caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV) have on the health of women. But could men also become infected with HPV?
Indeed, they can. In fact, a great majority of adults who are sexually active will be infected at one point or another in their lifetime, although the infection usually clears on its own in most cases. However, if HPV is left to persist in the system, it can lead to more serious consequences such as precancerous lesions on the cervix and the vulva, as well as in the vagina. It can also lead to cancer of the previously stated organs, as well as genital warts. If men who have a healthy immune system rarely develop health complications directly related to HPV, those with compromised immune systems, such as men who are HIV positive for example, have a greater risk of developing cancers of the anus, the penis, and other genital cancers. Furthermore, HPV is also associated with oropharyngeal cancer. The oropharynx is the section of the throat located directly at the back of the mouth.
A vaccine is currently offered to girls and young women between the ages of 9 and 26 in order to prevent infections attributable to the four most dangerous strands of HPV. Studies are currently being conducted to verify if the vaccine is also safe for men, as well as to learn if it can effectively protect them against genital warts and certain penile and anal cancers. For now however, using a condom every time you have sexual relations remains the very best way of lowering your risk of contracting HPV.