We’ve heard a lot about HPV, or Human Papillomavirus, mainly as it relates to women and cervical cancer. But a new study is showing that men are not in the clear either.
In fact, nearly one in three men over the age of 15 has at least one type of this virus that can cause genital warts and, in some cases, cancer. That’s a huge number and highlights that HPV isn’t just a “women’s issue.”
The study, which looked at data from around the world dating back to 1995, also found that one in five men carries what’s known as “high-risk” types of HPV.
These are the kinds that are more likely to cause cancer. So, why should we care? Because HPV can lead to serious health problems for both men and women.
Why It Matters for Men Too
Let’s first look at why this is a problem for men. Most of the time, HPV doesn’t cause any symptoms, so you might have it and not know. But in some cases, it can lead to uncomfortable and embarrassing genital warts.
Even more serious, it can cause cancers of the penis, anus, and throat. In 2018 alone, around 69,400 cases of these types of cancers in men were linked back to HPV.
The study also showed that young adults are the most at risk. If you’re a man between the ages of 25 and 29, you’re more likely to have HPV than at any other age.
But it’s not just young men who are affected. The study found that men of all ages can and do get HPV.
Why It’s a Problem for Everyone
Now, let’s look at why this is an issue for both men and women. Every year, over 340,000 women die of cervical cancer, which is often caused by HPV.
So, when men carry the virus, they can also pass it to their partners. It’s not just about one gender being at risk; it’s a problem that can affect everyone, no matter who you are.
Also, let’s remember that this virus doesn’t recognize borders. The study showed that men in nearly every part of the world are affected pretty much equally, except for in Eastern and South-Eastern Asia, where the rates are a bit lower.
So this is a global issue that needs a global solution.
What Can We Do?
The good news is that we can protect ourselves from HPV. There’s a vaccine that guards against some of the most dangerous types of the virus. Right now, this vaccine is mainly given to girls, but boys can and should get it too.
This could be a game-changer in lowering the number of HPV-related cancers and other health issues for everyone.
The Director of the World Health Organization’s Global HIV, Hepatitis, and Sexually Transmitted Infections Programs, Dr. Meg Doherty, emphasizes that this study shows us how widespread the problem is and why we should all be concerned.
The call to action is clear: it’s time to include men in our efforts to combat HPV. That means spreading awareness, making sure both boys and girls get vaccinated, and continuing research to find even better ways to prevent and treat this common virus.
So, the next time you think HPV is just a “women’s issue,” remember: it’s a human issue. And it’s one we can tackle together.
If you care about cancer, please read studies about a new method to treat cancer effectively, and this low-dose, four-drug combo may block cancer spread.
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The research findings can be found in The Lancet Global Health.
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