BOSTON — A report by health professionals is calling for the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to expand the classification of AIDS-related illnesses to include all HPV-related cancers, which affect as many men as women and are among the most common of all sexually transmitted infections, EDGE, a conglomerate of LGBT news agencies, reported last week.
Gay and bi men are 17 times more likely to develop HPV-related cancers than the general population, the article said. The combination of HIV and HPV-associated cancers are especially dangerous, Dr. Shoreh Shahabi, one of the report’s authors and a department chair at Danbury Hospital, was quoted as saying in the EDGE article.
It is estimated that nearly half of all sexually active people will become infected with HPV, the virus that causes genital warts, the article said. While most infected people never show symptoms or experience any adverse effects of the virus, and most infections go away on their own within two years, a small but significant percentage of infections will lead to genital warts or a variety of HPV-related cancers, the EDGE article said.
There’s no clinical test widely available for HPV for men and none available for either men or women that tests one’s overall HPV status or one that can detect HPV in the mouth or throat.
The only widely available test is for the strains that cause cervical cancer in women. Some practitioners will administer an anal Pap smear to test for the presence of anal cancer-causing HPV, especially in gay and bi men (HPV is responsible for an estimated 90 percent of all anal cancers). But the usefulness of this procedure is debated and it can be difficult to find a provider who offers it, the article said.
An HPV vaccine was approved by the FDA in 2009 for use on men and boys, but it requires three treatments and costs about $600 at some clinics such as Whitman-Walker Health in Washington.