As promised last week, we’ll be talking about HPV. Let’s start at the beginning: HPV is the most common sexually transmitted infection. HPV is a viral infection that can be spread from one person to another person through anal, vaginal, or oral sex, or through other close skin-to-skin touching during sexual activity. If you are sexually active you can get HPV, and nearly all sexually active people get infected with HPV at some point in their lives. It usually causes no symptoms and goes away by itself, but can sometimes cause serious illness. Condoms offer some but not total protection from HPV, as they don’t cover all of the genitalia skin. HPV is discussed with women because of the link to cervical cancer, and there is a very contentious HPV vaccination available being offered to school girls as young as 12 years old.
But no-one seems to be speaking to boys and men about HPV. Most of the time HPV infections completely go away and don’t cause any health problems. However, if an infection does not go away on its own, it is possible to develop HPV symptoms months or years after getting infected. This makes it hard to know exactly when you became infected. Lasting HPV infection can cause genital warts or certain kinds of cancer. It is not known why some people develop health problems from HPV and others do not. (http://www.cdc.gov/std/hpv/stdfact-hpv-and-men.htm). There is currently no known test for HPV in boys and as far as I know the vaccine is not made available to them.