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Does the HPV Vaccine Work in Men?

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Updated February 03, 2014

Written or reviewed by a board-certified physician. See About.com's Medical Review Board.

Question: Does the HPV Vaccine Work in Men?
Updated - On 10/16/09, the FDA approved the use of Gardasil in 9- to 26- year old boys for the prevention of genital warts.
Answer: The HPV vaccine has been shown to lower women's risk of both cervical cancer and genital warts, but according to a recent study, it also has a direct effect on HPV in men. Why worry about male HPV? A HPV virus causes several diseases in men, including genital warts, throat cancer, penile cancer and recto-anal cancers. The large study of both heterosexual and homosexual men, presented at the European Research Organization on Genital Infection and Neoplasia (EUROGIN) International Multidisciplinary Conference, found that the human papillomavirus vaccine, Gardasil, significantly reduced the number of cases of genital warts as well as cancerous and precancerous lesions on the external genitalia (penis, perineum and anus). The vaccine also reduced the total number of men who experienced HPV infections, and for men who were infected with the HPV virus, the HPV vaccine helped them clear the virus faster — a much smaller percentage of men in the vaccine group stayed infected with any given strain of HPV for more than 6 months.

This all suggests that vaccinating men with the HPV vaccine could have practical uses for directly improving men's health as well as possibly reducing the burden of HPV disease (particularly cervical cancer) in women. Testing for HPV in men is still, however, not commercially available, which may make it more difficult to communicate to some that this frequently asymptomatic virus is truly having an effect on their sexual health and the health of their sexual partners.

Sources:
Giuliano A & Palefsky J on behalf of the male quadrivalent HPV vaccine efficacy trial study group "THE EFFFICACY OF QUADRIVALENT HPV (TYPES 6/11/16/18) VACCINE IN REDUCING THE INCIDENCE OF HPV INFECTION AND HPV-RELATED GENITAL DISEASE IN YOUNG MEN" EUROGIN2008 Abstract #SS 19-7
Giuliano A & Palefsky J on behalf of the male quadrivalent HPV vaccine efficacy trial study group "EFFICACY OF THE QUADRIVALENT HPV VACCINE AGAINST HPV 6/11/16/18-RELATED GENITAL INFECTION IN YOUNG MEN" EUROGIN2008 Abstract #TC 2-11

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