There has been a lot of recent media attention on the Human Papillomaviruses (HPV) and how they affect women. It is important to note that men also can transmit HPV and that the virus can affect their health as well.
Thirty of the 100 strains of HPV are passed through sexual contact, often during vaginal and anal sex. Currently, there is no test to detect HPV in men. The test available at this time checks a woman’s cervical tissue to screen for cervical cancer. Men infected with HPV may never develop symptoms and may pass the virus on to a partner without knowing they are infected. While using condoms decreases the risk of transmitting the HPV virus, abstinence from all sexual contact is the only way to prevent transmission.
Most HPV infections in healthy men will go away on their own without causing other health conditions. Occasionally HPV can cause genital warts and penile or anal cancers in men. Men should perform routine self exams to check for any changes or abnormalities and see a doctor if they find any sores, warts, blisters, white patches or other abnormal areas on their penis, scrotum or anus. It is also important for men who have weak immune systems or HIV/AIDS to talk to their doctor about being screened for anal and penile cancers. Studies are ongoing to learn how best to screen for anal and penile cancers in men.
The HPV vaccine is currently only licensed for use with girls and women aged 9-26 years. The vaccine is now being studied to determine if it safe for men and effective at preventing men from developing genital warts and penile or anal cancers.
For more information about HPV, or any cancer concern, contact the Holden Comprehensive Cancer Center/Cancer Information Service:
Cancer Information Service
Holden Comprehensive Cancer Center
UI Hospitals and Clinics
200 Hawkins Drive, 4802 JPP
Iowa City, Iowa 52242