Men also carry the human papillomavirus, the virus that can lead to male cancers and genital warts. And they could spread HPV to their sexual partners, putting those people at risk for cervical cancer.
So the HPV vaccine, that is often recommended for girls, should extend to boys as well, say researchers from Innsbruck Medical University in Austria. Their study was presented at the meeting of the American Urological Association on Tuesday.
The HPV vaccine is recommended for women age 26 or younger, to prevent genital warts and to reduce risk of cervical cancer. The FDA approved the first HPV vaccine, Gardasil, back in 2006.
Although the vaccine has been approved for males since 2009, it hasn’t been as heavily promoted for them. The vaccine could help men prevent genital warts as well as penile and anal cancers.
In the study, Dr. Michael Ladurner Rennau and his colleagues tested 133 men, between 7 months to 82 years old for the presence of HPV, one of the most common sexually transmitted infections. They used DNA extraction. They found 18.8% of the examined foreskins had the low-risk HPV genotypes and 9.77% had the high-risk HPV.
None of the patients had clinical symptoms of HPV.
In the absence of symptoms, this suggests that “Not only girls, but boys should be vaccinated because of these findings,” said Rennau.
More than 100 varieties of HPV exist. Even patients who don’t have sexual contact may contract the virus through exposure to bodily fluids. Some types of HPV infection cause plantar warts on the feet, while others are responsible for the warts that appear on a person's hands or face.
“From a public health perspective, the important implication is to show that HPV infection is very common - even in patients with no clinical symptoms. It supports the argument that we should consider vaccinating both boys and girls to prevent future health problems,” said Dr. Tomas Griebling, vice chair of the urology department at the University of Kansas.