When the acronym HPV is mentioned, most people automatically think of cervical cancer, or female-related health issues. Truth is, HPV also affects males, causing cancers and anogenital warts among males.
Human papillomavirus (HPV) is a sexually transmitted pathogen that causes anogenital and oropharyngeal disease in males and females. There are multiple strains of HPV, but we need to look out for the following types: HPV types 16 and 18 cause nearly 90 percent of anal cancers and a significant proportion of oropharyngeal, vulvar, vaginal, and penile cancers. HPV types 6 and 11 cause approximately 90 percent of all anogenital warts.
Vaccines have been developed to protect against HPV infections and the development of subsequent HPV-associated disease. The most complete vaccine we have is Gardasil 9. This 9-valent vaccine that targets the following 9 strains of HPV: 6, 11, 16, 18, 31, 33, 45, 52, and 58.
Men who take the HPV Gardasil 9 vaccine are protected from anogenital warts, oropharyngeal cancer and penile cancer. Usually our patients only realize the significance of this vaccine after having symptoms such as anal / genital warts. All of these are prophylactic vaccines, designed to prevent initial HPV infection and subsequent HPV-associated lesions.
Men who obtain the Gardasil 9 vaccination receive the direct benefit of protection against cancers that can result from persistent HPV infection. HPV types 16 and 18 cause nearly 90 percent of anal cancers and a large proportion of oropharyngeal and penile cancers. Vaccination with Gardasil 9 also protects against anogenital warts, 90 percent of which are caused by HPV types 6 and 11. The overall burden of HPV-associated cancers and pre-cancers among males is less than the burden of cervical cancer in females. Nevertheless, despite a smaller direct absolute benefit of HPV vaccination in males compared with females, the overall benefit of vaccinating males outweighs its potential risks because of additional population benefits from herd immunity and the documented safety of HPV vaccines
So who do we advise for vaccination? Everyone. All females have to be vaccinated as per the national vaccination guideline of Malaysia. For males, it is earliest recommended at the age of 13, up to before having an active sex life. If you are already sexually active, you can still take the vaccine to prevent future infection of HPV.You would need 3 doses of the vaccine. 1st dose to start, a 2nd dose 2 months after the 1st dose, and the last dose 5 months after the first dose. These vaccines are available in clinic settings, and are injected on the deltoid muscles with minimal discomfort. Common side effects are mild fever and bruising at injection site. Allergic reactions towards the vaccine are very rare, at a rate of 0.1 cases for every 100,000 vaccinations. A detailed history regarding anaphylaxis or allergic reaction will be taken prior to injection.
HPV can affect both males and females, and with today’s growing population, awareness of sexually transmitted infections and advancement in the medical field, everyone should be vaccinated for HPV to prevent life-threatening cancers that comes with HPV.
Find out more regarding HPV and Gardasil 9 vaccination in DTAP clinics.