Thursday, August 19, 2010

Guys Get a Turn at STD Prevention Too

HPV or Gardisil is now approved for boys and men.  Over the past 6 years we have been vaccinating girls and women, and now boys and men can be on an equal footing with this virus. It is now recommended for boys and men ages 9-26.

HPV, or human papilloma virus is a ubiquitous virus, easily contracted through intimate contact or touching that does not necessarily involve intercourse.  "Outercourse" and oral sex are easy ways to pass HPV among partners, friends, friends with benefits, etc. You get the picture.

We know that over three quarters of people have been exposed to HPV by the time they are sexually active for a short period of time.  We also know that most types of HPV in most people can be disposed of by our amazing immune systems.  However, there are certain sub types of HPV which we know can wreak havoc and are not so easily gotten rid of.  The most frightening consequences of these infections are genital warts and cervical cancer.

Genital warts are not pretty.  I chose not to display images of them but you can see some pretty nasty pictures of them here.  People might remember from health class that genital warts can be contracted by skin to skin contact outside of the areas protected by condoms.  Hence the advantage of the HPV vaccine. 

Downsides to this vaccine?  It is expensive as these things go;but my brief investigation has taught me that most insurance companies are covering it.  They know how much treating one case of genital warts can cost and they are only measuring the financial costs, not the emotional and psychological ones ("You gave me WHAT?").  In addition to cost, immunization involves three shots over a six month period and truth is they hurt a bit.  But hey, nothing compared to having a wart burned off the private parts.

Ask your doctor about HPV vaccine.  Or contact my office.


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