HPV Vaccine Also Recommended For Men And Boys
Human Papillomavirus (HPV) is one of the most known and feared viruses, that infects the skin and mucous membranes and causes a psychological and sexual distress among patients, thus lowering the quality of life. There are over 130 types of HPV strains of which only about 40 strains infect the anogenital region, causing various lesions, either benign or pre-malignant, which can regress spontaneously after 6-24 months, or can lead to cancer if they are not early detected and correctly treated. The regression of the lesions depends on the immune system response , which varies from person to person.
Factors that can increase the risk of evolution of HPV infections to cancer are smoking, long-term use of oral contraceptives or impaired function of the immune system.
Among HPV types with increased risk for malignant lesions are: 16, 18, 31, 33, 35, 39, 45, 51, 52, 56, 58, 59, 68, 69, and 73, and among those with low risk are HPV types 6 and 11.
Although until recently it was believed that women were most affected mainly because they can develop lesions on the cervix (in more than 70% of cervical cancer cases, HPV types 16 and 18 were involved) and men are just simple carriers. Recent studies have shown that HPV is involved in approximately 25% of cancers occurring in men , especially anal cancers.
HPV vaccines, both quadrivalent (6,11,16,18 – recommended for females 9-26 years) and bivalent (recommended for females 10-25 16.18-years) have shown effectiveness in preventing intraepithelial lesions and cervical cancer in women. Recent studies suggest that the quadrivalent vaccine may be effective on other HPV types that are closely related to those included in the vaccine. This will decrease long-term morbidity, caused by HPV, possible pregnancy complications due to surgical treatments (for example – LLETZ – Large Loop Excision of the transformation zone) and cervical cancer mortality.
A recent study led by Dr. Giuliano A.R from University of San Florida included 4065 men aged 16-26 years, who received quadrivalent vaccine has shown that it can prevent the appearance of genital lesions. This result could have major long term implications , limiting the spread of infection, lowering long-term morbidity and mortality due to genital and anal cancers, both in women and men. The results will probably be visible over many years.
Whether you vaccinated or not, keep in mind that annual gynecological exams and Pap smears are mandatory for all women, regardless of age.