SYDNEY, Australia — A new study by sexual health researchers in Australia suggests gay male teenagers are at increased risk of contracting the cancer-causing human papillomavirus (HPV), prompting renewed calls for other countries to adopt Australia’s state-funded vaccine program for boys, the Star Observer, an Australian LGBT news agency, reports.
Researchers examined 200 men who have sex with men (MSM) aged 16-20, one of the first studies in the world to focus on HPV rates in males of this age group. While it is often linked to cervical cancer among women, MSM were also at risk, with HPV in the anus linked to anal cancer.
Significantly, results of this study indicated MSM in this age group were more likely to have anal HPV if they have had more partners and receptive anal sex, the Star Observer reported.
In part because it is a sexually transmitted infection, HPV vaccination has been a controversial issue worldwide, with proposed programs in the U.S. leading to accusations by some religious organizations that it would lead to promiscuity among pre-teen girls.
While the current study has attracted international attention, the rollout of a government- funded HPV vaccination program for both girls and boys in Australia over the past year has met little resistance, and is being hailed as a model for other countries looking to follow suit, the Star Observer reports.