Thursday, March 27, 2008

What are the health risks associated with HPV in men?

In fact, most sexually active adults — both men and women — will acquire HPV at some time in their lives.

Men with healthy immune systems rarely develop HPV-related health problems. However, genital HPV infection is one cause of penis (penile) cancer. It's also associated with cancer of the anus and other genital cancers. These cancers are most common in males with HIV infection. In addition, HPV has been linked to oropharyngeal cancer. The oropharynx is the part of the throat just behind the mouth.

Genital HPV spreads through sexual contact. Both men and women can pass it to their partners. Certain types of HPV cause genital warts, but the virus usually causes no signs or symptoms. One way to prevent HPV infection is to avoid direct contact with the virus. Using a condom every time you have sex can significantly reduce your risk of contracting HPV.

The Food and Drug Administration has approved a vaccine that offers protection from the most dangerous types of HPV, but it's currently available only to girls and women. Studies are under way to test if the HPV vaccine is also safe for men, and whether it is effective at protecting against genital warts and certain penile and anal cancers.