According to researchers, roughly 75-80% of sexually active people contract HPV (also referred to as the human papilomavirus) at some point in their life. However, due to its lack of visible symptoms, many may never be officially diagnosed with having the disease. This makes it incredibly easy to spread, particularly by men. Thanks to researchers from Womack Army Medical Center in North Carolina, an HPV test geared towards men was used to determine how many American males have the disease and the findings are startling.
After testing a nationally representative sample of 1868 men between 18 and 59, researchers found that 45.2% of them had genital HPV.
“Male HPV vaccination may have a greater effect on HPV transmission and cancer prevention in men and women than previously estimated,” the paper, published in JAMA Oncology, concludes.
The CDC previously recommended vaccination for girls starting at age 11 since 2006, but the male vaccine wasn’t approved by the FDA until 2009 and didn’t get recommended until 2011.
But despite its widespread availability, few men are taking advantage of it. Along with the startling amount of men who have genital HPV, scientists also found that many did nothing to prevent contracting it; only 10.7% of men eligible for the vaccine got it.
Similar findings were revealed in a 2015 Pediatrics study, where researchers found that 13.9% of boys had completed the three-part vaccine. Only 34.6% had started it, compared to 60% of girls.
Considering HPV causes 9,000 cancers in men yearly and 12,00 cases of HPV-induced cervical cancer each year, it’s incredibly important for both you and your partner to get vaccinated ,if eligible. In the meantime, practice safe sex, wrap it up and stay safe. The only person who’s going to protect you is you.