On Guard! For HPV with Gardasil

Casual sex passes human papillomavirus to unknowing sexual partners

(RxWiki News) It only makes sense that, to eradicate a sexually-transmitted disease, both sexes need to be vaccinated prior to engaging in sexual activity, which would mean before puberty or early teens.

The US Food and Drug Administration, or FDA, has approved Gardasil for the treatment of human papillomavirus (HPV) in girls starting at age 9 to 26. In females, HPV can lead to cervical cancer and genital warts. The Gardasil vaccine has been approved in boys aged 9 to 26 for the prevention of anal cancer and genital warts.

Current studies are underway to examine the possibility that HPV is associated with the growing number of head and neck cancers, penile cancer and anal cancer in men.

"Ask your pediatrician if your son should get the Gardasil vaccine."

Donna Cristy, RN, MSN, FNP-C, reports that men are sometimes infected with HIV and can unknowingly infect their sexual partners. HPV is passed through genital contact including vaginal, anal and oral sex. Cristy reported that casual, multiple sex partners plays a large role in spreading HPV.

The only surefire way of preventing infection with HPV is abstinence. Limiting the number of sexual partners can reduce the risk of infection, but is not a guarantee. Even condoms are not 100 percent foolproof since too much of the genital area is still exposed. In men, most HPV viruses are found near the scrotum, not on the penis.

Currently, there is no HPV test for men. Too often, males only become aware of their HPV status after a secondary problem develops.

The most common symptoms of HPV are genital warts—a raised, flat, cauliflower-like lesion that can occur on the penis, testicles, groin or thighs. Treatment involves freezing the wart and removing it. Most men, however, have no symptoms.

Gardasil is the only vaccine available that is approved for men age 9 to 26 for prevention of genital warts. New studies are now underway to determine if men will reap additional benefits of cancer protection.

Cristy reported that a standard immunization for boys is on the horizon. To prevent spreading HPV, she feels immunization should occur prior to a male's first sexual encounter. According to the FDA, Gardasil has been proven to be safe.

HPV has been linked to several types of cancers in men.

Anal cancer warnings signs are:

  • Bleeding, pain, itching and discharge from the anal area
  • Swollen anal or groin lymph nodes
  • Stool changes

Penile cancer warning signs:

  • Change in penis color
  • Skin thickening of the penis
  • New mass of tissue on the penis
  • A sore or growth on the penis

Head and neck cancer warning signs:

  • Chronic sore throat
  • Ear pain
  • Chronic coughing
  • Difficulty swallowing or breathing
  • Weight loss
  • Hoarse voice
  • Mass or lump in the neck
Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
June 30, 2011