You sat through those embarrassing, interminable, and not all that informative Sex Ed classes in high school and you’ve spent countless hours doing “research” of your own on Google, so you probably have a pretty good handle on sex, STDs, and sexual health. Maybe you do, and while education is half the battle, it’s certainly not all of it. Keeping yourself safe when sleeping with a guy (or girl) isn’t always simple as using a condom and calling it a day — especially when some infections and diseases can still be transmitted whether you use them or not. HPV is just one of them, and according to a new study, it’s scarily commonplace in men.
The study, published last week in the JAMA Oncology journal, found that an alarming 45 percent of men under the age of 60 have a genital form of HPV, also known as the human papillomavirus. Not only that, but 25 percent of those men had high-risk forms of the infection which are more likely to lead to cancer.
Perhaps the high number of HPV cases in men has something to do with the fact that only 11% of those studied had received the HPV vaccine. According to Womack Army Medical Center chief of oncology, Dr. Jasmine Han, the “consistent, high infection rate among all age groups in men was very striking, because this was not expected. While men can only receive the vaccine until the age of 26, Han hopes the results of the study will see a change in this trend, with more men asking their doctor for the preventative measure.
There are over 100 types of HPV, and while none in and of themselves are life-threatening, many strains can lead to secondary conditions that are much more serious. Plus, given that HPV can be transmitted through skin not usually covered by a condom, it’s especially important for both you and your partners to be prudent and get tested.