What is Human Papilloma Virus (HPV)?
The Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) is a group of viruses which infect the skin and mucous membranes of the body and are transmitted through skin contact or through transfer of genital fluids.
There are over 200 subtypes, with majority of them do not cause a clinically significant medical problem. Around 30 subtypes infect the genital area.
HPV in Men: How do they present in Men?
When they present with symptoms, they usually present as genital warts.
Rarely, HPV in men can cause penile, oropharyngeal or anal cancer. This is more common in men living with HIV.
Not everyone infected with HPV will get symptoms.
If warts grow, the common areas they grow are on the foreskin, on the shaft of the penis, on the pubic region at the base of the penis, around the anus and inside the anal canal.
Remember, you do NOT need to have anal sex to get warts around the anus. see Anal Sex STD risk
Remember, condoms do NOT protect you 100% against HPV. So you can get infected with HPV even if you use a condom every time!
Is there a cure for HPV infections in men?
Unfortunately there is no medication that is available to target the HPV virus specifically.
However, there is treatment available for its symptoms. As the infection is usually self-limiting. 90% of the time, the body’s immunity usually clears the infection after some time.
Warts however can be removed by a variety of methods. There are creams, lotions, lasers and other methods for removing warts.
Sometimes, if the warts are really plentiful and limited to the foreskin, a circumcision is done to remove all the warts,
Warts often recur and usually several treatments are needed before they go away completely.
Is there a HPV vaccine for Men?
Yes there is! Gardasil is indicated for use in men and boys to protect them against getting HPV.
Does Gardasil protect you against all strains of HPV in men?
No. It only protects you against HPV 6, 11, 16 and 18, with HPV 6 and 11 causing 90% of the genital wart presentations.
Is the vaccine still beneficial if I have had genital warts in the past?
It may still be beneficial as you may not have been exposed to all 4 strains covered in the vaccine. It is best to discuss this with your doctor.
Also, studies have shown that the HPV vaccine reduces the risk of HPV symptom recurrence in people who are already infected.
Are there any side effects from Gardasil vaccination?
The vaccine is very safe. If any side effects do occur, some of the common side effects includes pain, redness, or welling in the injected arm, headache, fever, feeling tired, nausea, muscle or joint pain. In very rare occasions, a severe allergic reaction may occur.
What is HPV vaccination regimen like?
A total of 3 vaccines are given over a total period of 6 months ( 2nd dose given 2 months after the first dose and the 3rd dose is given 4 months after the 2nd dose)