There are about 14 million Americans who become infected with the human papillomavirus, or HPV, each year. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, HPV is the single most common sexually transmitted infection. In fact, it’s so common that nearly all sexually active adults will get HPV at some point in their lives. However, just because it’s common it doesn’t mean every case is the same. There are over 150 strains of the virus, and some can lead to many other health problems including cancer. The good news is, HPV is pretty preventable thanks to a vaccine. The bad news is, a pretty sad majority of people know virtually nothing about HPV. According to a new study published in the Health Education Journal, about 88 percent of undergraduate men know very little about HPV and its risks to their gender.
The study, led by Theresa Hunter of the Department of Applied Health Science in Indiana University Bloomington, took a sample of 116 undergrad male students from a Midwestern university and asked them to complete a survey questionnaire on their attitudes toward the HPV vaccine. As the study found, the knowledge male undergrads had about HPV and the vaccine was very low. Because of that, the intention to get vaccinated was also very low.
Men are twice as likely as women to develop oral cancer because of HPV.
This is definitely not a good thing. At the most recent annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), it was found that men are twice as likely as women to develop some kind of oral cancer because of HPV. It was also discovered that men were 37 percent less likely to clear an oral HPV infection than women were.
It seems like when we hear anything about HPV, it’s more commonly linked to women. In fact, recently, a study by the CDC found that HPV rates for teenage girls has decreased dramatically thanks to doctor recommendations about getting the HPV vaccine. However, immunization still remains low. In fact, only 40 percent of girls and 20 percent of boys between the ages of 13 and 17-years-old get vaccinated—mainly due to its association with sexual activity.
The fact that guys are getting vaccinated at a much lower rate than girls is alarming because regardless of whether or not the guy knows he has HPV, he can still spread it around through any sexual activity. According to health experts, everyone should be vaccinated before they become sexually active. After all, it is the most commonly transmitted STI.
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