The last few decades have witnessed a sharp rise in the cases of sexually transmitted diseases and infections. Amongst them, Human papillomavirus or HPV is considered as the most commonly transmitted infection. The disease may affect a person through:
- Anal/oral/vaginal sex
- Skin-to-skin touch during sexual intercourse
In this light, it is imperative to understand the ways of acquiring HPV infection, its common symptoms, risks associated, diagnosis, and treatment.
Risks Associated with HPV Infection in Men
Scientists have propounded that different types of HPV may vary in terms of the kind of epithelium they infect. While some HPV infect cutaneous layer of the body, the others infect the mucosal surfaces. It has been further established that more than 30 types of HPV infect the anogenital epithelium, which may cause cancer in the penis or anus in men.
A study by The American Cancer Society in 2015 estimated that approximately 1,820 males in the U.S. were diagnosed with penis cancer. The report further exemplified that the risk of having anal cancer amongst bisexual and active gay men is nearly 17 times higher than the men having sexual intercourse only with women. Approximately 1% of the total number of sexually active men have a risk of developing HPV Infection, which may be categorised into:
- Low-risk HPV: causing warts around the men’s genital areas. Since these warts have rare possibilities of growing into cancer, they are often regarded as low risk viruses.
- High-risk HPV Infection: These viruses have possibilities of developing into cancer over time.
HPV Symptoms in Men
Most of the HPV infections are harmless, temporary, and generally indicate no signs or HPV symptoms. In some cases, genital warts may be observed as one of the symptoms.
HPV Infection – Common Myths
As often misconstrued, HPV infections are never transmitted by:
- Toilet seats
- Swimming in hot tubs or pools
- Hugging or shaking/holding hands
- Sharing food, water, or utensils
- Exhibiting a family history
- Being unhygienic
Tests to Diagnose HPV Infection
To diagnose HPV infection in men’s genital warts, following tests and techniques are adopted by a doctor:
- Checking the genital area of a man to investigate the presence of warts
- At times, doctors apply vinegar solution in order to identify invisible warts
Apart from above, there are no regular tests that are prescribed to check the strains of high or low risk HPV infection. Nevertheless, most recently, doctors are advising anal Pap tests for bisexual and gay men. In this test, anus cells are collected to check for abnormalities, if any.
Treatment for HPV Infection in Men
Since HPV infection in men demonstrates no symptoms, as a result there are no treatments indicated for this illness. Instead, most physicians treat the medical conditions that are instigated by the virus.
For genital warts, patients are prescribed to use creams and ointments, or freeze/surgically remove warts. Furthermore, the anal cancers are usually treated with surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy