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HPV Infection Rates Higher Among Older American Men

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Close to half of American men have a human papillomavirus (HPV) infection, but only a small number of them have received the HPV vaccine, a new study says.

The study shows that around 45% of men in the USA under the age of 60 have a genital HPV infection, which accounts for around 35 million. In addition, 25% of this total had the high-risk types of HPV, which are at a higher risk for cancer compared to low-risk HPV. Out of all the men with HPV, only 11% of them had received the vaccine, Live Science reports.

Surprisingly, the highest rate of HPV infection was found in older men – it was seen among those ages 58 to 59, the oldest age group in the study. This higher rate of HPV infections in older men is a direct contrast in what can be seen in women. HPV infection rates are lower in older women compared to younger ones.

Dr. Jasmine Han, the chief of gynecologic oncology at the Womack Army Medical Center in Fort Bragg, North Carolina and lead author on the study, says,

The consistent, high infection rate among all age groups in men was very striking, because this was not expected.

This is the first study to examine how many men in America have a genital HPV condition. The study hopes to promote public awareness on the issue, especially on low vaccination rates, Han says. This is especially important as cancers linked to HPV in men are on the rise. There is an effective vaccine that “could eradicate HPV-associated cancers in both women and men, but the prevalence remains high despite the availability,” Han adds.

Also, the current vaccination age cut-off for men – currently 26 years old – should be evaluated in light of these new findings, to help prevent infection in older men, the researchers note.

The study was published in the journal JAMA Oncology.

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