By Timothy Byler, MD
Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) is the most common sexually transmitted infection worldwide.
Although common, there are over 170 different strains included in this and only some that have obvious symptoms. Most people don’t know they have the infection and they have no symptoms.
The CDC recently reported that 45 percent of men without any visible signs tested positive for a least one strain of HPV.
The HPV virus has been linked to cancers of both men and women. The virus really became known for its connection with cervical cancer and is found in over 70 percent of cases. In fact, routine gynecology visits are really helpful in determining if the virus is present. It has also been found to be involved in cancer of the penis, anus and throat.
It is important that if you notice something, you see a doctor to be evaluated and be sure it is not one of these dangerous spots.
HPV is also the cause of genital warts, a condition in which small growths appear on the penis or scrotum on males. These lead to social embarrassment and surgical removal in many cases.
Our recent research found that 2.9 percent of the US population (2.2 million men) tested positive for HPV 6 or 11, the two strains most associated with these warts. Although this is a large number of people, only about 20 percent of those that test positive have a growth that is visible. Fortunately, we have a lot of options to remove the warts with good cosmetic outcome.
As shown above, the effects of HPV infection have a wide range and affect many people. Fortunately, there is a vaccine to prevent the nine most common strains of the virus.
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) now recommends vaccination be given to all children aged 11-12, and in some people up to age 26. Despite these recommendations, most studies show the vaccine use is low and many people are unaware the vaccine is available. Patients should ask their primary care doctor if the vaccine is right for them.
If you have a concern, don’t hesitate to contact your primary care or Upstate Urology at (315) 464-1500