Human Papillomavirus, or HPV, affects more than 50% of men in the United States. That's according to a new study done by the Moffitt Cancer Center in Tampa. The disease is commonly thought of for women only, but the Centers for Disease Control has seen a dramatic increase in the number of men with HPV.
"The virus lays on the skin after the sexual contact and the acquisition of it and it can lay there for many many years. You can pass it on to your partner, but you have no problem with it. Then, sometimes the genital warts will come about," said Beverly Stumpf with Family Planning.
There are about 40 types of HPV. Four of them are most common. Two cause 90% of genital warts cases. The other two cause 75% of cervical cancer cases in females. The Gardasil vaccine is offered to females ages 9 to 26 to prevent cervical cancer. But more recently, it's not just for women.
"We do offer them the option to go ahead and get the Gardasil too, even if they already have the genital warts. They have acquired one of the viruses but the vaccine would maybe help them with any other thing that they have not acquired yet," said Stumpf.
Getting the vaccine would help stop the spread of the virus. Not only would you be protected, so would your partner. HPV can lead to cancer in men as well. The Centers for Disease Control says 800 men get HPV related penile cancer, and 1,100 get HPV related anal cancer each year in the US. It also says most sexually active people in the U.S. will have HPV at some time in their lives.
"Sometimes people with their own immunity will be able to take care of this within 2 years. Sometimes you can completely eradicate it, not that the virus is completely gone, but the problem is gone. Sometimes the virus leaves too. You have to give it a chance," said Stumpf.
If they don't go away, HPV related genital warts can be treated with an acid treatment or a prescription cream.