In doctor’s offices and hospitals across the nation there are visible flyers, posters and brochures asking women to talk to their daughters about the human papillomavirus, or HPV, and to make future appointments to be vaccinated against the virus. But why is the male population being ignored?
Twenty million people in the United States carry this virus. HPV is the most common sexually transmitted disease, and until recently was the least discussed. HPV is the virus that causes genital warts in both men and women, which is easily detected and treated, but it is the other strains of the human papillomavirus that are not easily detected in men and could eventually cause cancer. This can be compared to a woman not having annual exams, like pap smears.
Men are victims of this virus as well, yet there is no vaccination protecting them, and no exams that screen them before any permanent damage is done. Furthermore, there are no commercials or stationary to educate them about the virus.
On the Center for Disease Control and Prevention Web site, a question and answer forum states that men do not need to be worried about being tested for this virus, and that there is no clear health benefit in knowing that one is infected, since it usually goes away on its own. This seems to be a huge contraction in the world of health, since a man can give this virus to another person, possibly causing that individual to suffer from the emotional and physical conditions of cancer. But more important is that a woman can also bestow this virus onto a man.
The American Cancer Society estimated that 1,530 men will be diagnosed with penile cancer in 2006. Penile and other genital cancers can be linked to the abnormal cells that the virus can cause, similar to those of cervical cancer in women caused by HPV.
Educating men against this virus seems to be low on the totem pole of STD education. Do men not want to be able to create their own offspring someday? Is there a code that states that men do not worry about infecting their girlfriends or wives with HPV?
Some educational tools such as health Web sites and paperwork that can be read in a doctor’s office state that men are the carrier of this virus. It is true that men are unaware of whether they carry the virus or not, causing others to be infected unknowingly. But this is not the males fault. They may have no clue that they are passing it on to someone they care about, simply because there is no test designed for men. There is no vaccine designed for men to protect themselves as there is for women.