The HPV vaccine for men- is this a thing?

Yes, it is. You may have heard of the HPV or Gardasil vaccine for young women to prevent cervical cancer, but young men should get it too!

4 men studying and drinking coffee

The HPV vaccine is a series of 3 injections over a 6-month period. Ideally it should be given before a person ever has sex, but it is recommended for men from age 11 through 21 years regardless of sexual activity, and through age 26 years for men who have sex with men and men who are immunocompromised (including those who are HIV positive).

Why should men get vaccinated? Vaccination helps to:

  • Prevent genital warts
  • Prevent penile, throat, and anal cancers caused by HPV
  • Prevent spread of HPV to future partners

Human papillomavirus (HPV) is the most common sexually transmitted infection (STI).  The virus is spread through anal, vaginal, or oral sex, and can even be spread through close skin contact during sexual activity. A person doesn’t have to have signs and symptoms to spread the virus.

All sexually active people are at risk for HPV.

Almost all sexually active people get infected with HPV at some point in their lives. Most people will clear the infection without more serious issues.  However, if an infection does not go away on its own, symptoms may develop months or even years later.

If HPV does not go away on its own, it can cause genital warts and some types of cancer.

Warning symptoms: new or unusual warts, growths, lumps, or sores on the penis, scrotum, anus, mouth, or throat.

Genital warts usually appear as a small bump or group of bumps around the penis or anus. They may be small or large, raised or flat, or shaped like a cauliflower. The warts may stay the same or grow in size or number. They can come back even after treatment but warts caused by HPV do not lead to cancer.

HPV infection is not cancer, but it can change the body in ways that lead to cancer. Cervical cancer can occur in women, penile cancer in men, and anal cancer in both women and men. Cancer at the back of the throat, including the base of the tongue and tonsils (oropharyngeal cancer), is also a concern for both men and women.  All of these cancers can be caused by HPV infections that do not go away.

three pie charts show types of HPV for men and women 

Figure: Average Number of New HPV-Associated Cancers Overall, and by Sex, in the United States from 2005-2009

HPV-related cancers are not common in men, but certain men are more susceptible:

  • Men with weak immune systems (including those with HIV) who get infected with HPV are more likely to have complications
  • Men who receive anal sex are more likely to get anal HPV and develop anal cancer

There is no approved test for HPV in men at this time, and there is no specific treatment. Genital warts can be treated by healthcare providers and HPV-related cancers are more treatable when diagnosed and treated early.

The HPV vaccine lowers the risk of getting HPV and HPV-related diseases.

 Using condoms for every sexual encounter lowers the chance of getting all STIs, including HPV.

 If nothing else, consider protecting your future sexual partner(s) from HPV by getting vaccinated!

The HPV vaccine is available at Campus Health Services.

For more information on HPV visit

Of Warts, Nuns and Jackalopes: A Brief History of the HPV Vaccine

This spring marks the 6-year anniversary of the vaccine for HPV, a common sexually transmitted infection that causes warts, cervical cancer, and other cancers. Since the vaccine’s debut back in 2006, millions worldwide have been vaccinated against HPV —an effort which is expected to have a serious impact on reducing the incidence of cervical and other anogenital cancers around the globe.

What’s now a commonplace vaccine, however, represents a long (and occasionally weird) history of scientific discovery. On this 6-year vaccinaversary, let’s nerd out for a minute and revisit the complex, sometimes strange, and ultimately successful history of the HPV vaccine.

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One study suggests that among university students, over 75% had heard of Human Papillomavirus, or HPV. But, what exactly is HPV and what is its significance in health? HPV is a complicated virus, and so it’s perhaps no surprise that many HPV misconceptions still exist.  We’ll cover some of the basics of HPV in this blog post and clarify some common questions.

Let’s start off with the basics. What is HPV?

Human Papillomavirus is a family of viruses, which includes over 100 different types of HPV. In general, HPV is spread through all types of skin-to-skin contact. Different types of HPV play different roles in the body. Some HPV types exist on the body’s surface with no known health consequences. Other types of HPV go on to cause warts—this includes common warts (for example, those on people’s hands and feet), and also includes genital warts. Still other HPV types go on to cause cancer. So, the take-home message is: different types of HPV, different potential consequences. What’s important to note is that having HPV doesn’t necessarily mean you will develop the things HPV causes, like warts or cancer.

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