SEP 07, 2023 6:35 PM PDT

Globally, 1 in 3 Men Have Human Genital Papillomavirus (HPV)

WRITTEN BY: Carmen Leitch

Sexually transmitted diseases are on the rise. A new report in The Lancet Global Health has indicated that around the world, nearly one in three men over age 15 are infected with at least one type of genital human papillomavirus (HPV). The study also showed that one in five men are carrying HPV types that can lead to cancer. While many HPV infections do not cause any symptoms, some types of HPV can cause cervical cancer in women, and over 340,000 women die from cervical cancer every year.

Image credit: Pixabay

When men are infected with HPV, they may get anogenital warts, which increase the rate of HPV transmission and can increase morbidity. While HPV infections tend to be associated with cervical cancer in women, HPV, particularly type 16, may also increase the risk of penile, anal, and oropharyngeal cancers in men. HPV may have caused about 69,400 cases of cancer in men in 2018, according to The International Agency for Research on Cancer. HPV-16 is also the most common type of HPV, and may be carried by about 5 percent of men.

The report evaluated a range of studies that have be done on HPV in recent years to show that worldwide, about 31 percent of men carry some type of HPV and 21 percent have high-risk HPV. It indicated that young adults have the highest burden of genital HPV, with the highest rates among men who are between 25 and 29 years old. HPV rates leveled off or decreased a bit in men who were older.

The prevalence of HPV infections were similar in many areas, including the UN Sustainable Development Goal geographical regions in North America, Europe, Latin America and the Caribbean, Sub-Saharan Africa, Australia and New Zealand. In Eastern and South-Eastern Asia the rates were about half that of the other areas.

This research has shown that men often carry HPV, and they can help control the spread. Women can also be vaccinated for HPV to reduce their risk of cancer.

"This global study on the prevalence of genital HPV infection among men confirms how widespread HPV infection is. HPV infection with high-risk HPV types can cause genital warts and oral, penile and anal cancer in men," said Dr. Meg Doherty, Director of the World Health Organization's Global HIV, Hepatitis and Sexually Transmitted Infections Programs. "We must continue to look for opportunities to prevent HPV infection and to reduce the incidence of HPV-related disease in both men and women."

Sources: World Health Organization, The Lancet Global Health

About the Author
Bachelor's (BA/BS/Other)
Experienced research scientist and technical expert with authorships on over 30 peer-reviewed publications, traveler to over 70 countries, published photographer and internationally-exhibited painter, volunteer trained in disaster-response, CPR and DV counseling.
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