Although men are at high risk of acquiring human papillomavirus (HPV) infections, most last no more than a year, about the same time this sexually transmitted disease persists in women, researchers report in The Journal of Infectious Diseases.
HPV has long been known as a cause of genital warts, but in recent years most reports have focused on its association with cervical cancer. In 2006, an HPV vaccine (Gardasil) designed to prevent cervical cancer was approved for use and a new report indicates that roughly one quarter of adolescent girls in the US were vaccinated in 2007.
Because male-to-female transmission of HPV influences the risk of cancer in women, Dr Anna R. Giuliano of the H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Centre and Research Institute in Tampa, Florida, and colleagues and sought out more information on the matter.
The team conducted a forward-looking study of 290 men from, ages 18-44 years, who were recruited by a variety of means including college posters, encounters at health clinics, and radio and newspaper advertisements.
The participants were examined at the start of the study and every 6 months thereafter. On average, the subjects were followed for 15.5 months.
Upon entering the study, 30% of men were infected with HPV. The 12-month rate of new infection was 29.2%.
Over the entire study period, roughly half of men were infected with HPV and nearly a third of the HPV types found are known to cause cancer. About 75% of the infections cleared within a year of detection.
The HPV vaccine is currently being tested internationally in men.
"Should we show that HPV prevention vaccines...are effective in men we can potentially reduce a proportion of infections acquired by men," which in turn could reduce the risk in their sexual partners, Giuliano concluded. - (David Douglas/Reuters Health, October 2008)
SOURCE: Journal of Infectious Diseases, September 15, 2008.