Many queer men do not understand risk of HPV infection, study shows

HPV virus human papillomavirus queer men gay

Many queer men have little to no understanding of the risk of contracting the human papillomavirus (HPV) through sex, a study has found.

Researchers interviewed 38 gay, bisexual and straight men who have sex with men in their early 20s in New York City for a study published in Journal of Community Health. They found a pervasive lack of awareness about the virus and highly gendered ideas about its transmission.

The study found that few queer men have gotten the HPV vaccination, with many believing the virus only affects women. Researchers were critical of the wider medical profession for failing to communicate the risks of the virus to the LGBT+ community.

79 million Americans are infected with the human papillomavirus (HPV), and queer men are not immune.

“Clinicians have a direct role in expanding the availability of LGBTQ-competent healthcare,” the study’s lead author Jessica Jaiswal said.

“By learning about sexual minority men’s diverse health needs and routinely offering the HPV vaccine, we can move toward a health promotion model and not only a disease prevention model.”

Clinicians have a direct role in expanding the availability of LGBTQ-competent healthcare.

About 79 million Americans are infected with the human papillomavirus virus and it is estimated that 14 million contract the infection every year. The infection, which is sexually transmitted, can cause anal and penile cancer, and is of particular concern to queer men because of low vaccination levels in the community.

Researchers recommend that ‘everyone who is sexually active’ talk to their doctor about getting the vaccine.

“Everyone who is sexually active — regardless of gender, sexual orientation, partners’ genders, relationship or marital status — should talk to their doctor about receiving the HPV vaccine to prevent a future generation who may develop HPV-related cancers, such as cervical, oral and anal cancer, as we have seen emerging in Baby Boomers and Gen-Xer s,” said Perry N. Halkitis, Dean of Rutgers School of Public Health.

Meanwhile, the study’s co-author Caleb LoSchiavo, a doctoral student at the school, said: “Particularly in light of the decades-long focus on gay men’s health care as HIV care, there is a missed opportunity for HPV prevention in the community.”

Another study published last year in AIDS Patient Care and STDs found that 58 per cent of gay and bisexual participants had been infected with HPV, but just 18 per cent had received a vaccination.