FRIDAY, Sept. 23 (HealthDay News) -- U.S. health authorities now recommend that girls and young women be vaccinated against human papillomavirus, a sexually transmitted disease that is a known cause of cervical cancer, but that recommendation does not extend to boys and young men.
At least for now.
A debate that's been simmering over whether males also should be vaccinated for human papillomavirus, or HPV, could be resolved in October at a meeting of a key advisory committee of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said CDC spokesman Tom Skinner.
HPV is widespread among men. An international study published in March in The Lancet found that half of all adult males in the United States may be infected with the virus.
More than 40 strains of HPV exist, and all are passed along by skin-to-skin contact, usually during sexual relations, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The most well-known strain of HPV causes genital warts. But other strains show no obvious symptoms and clear up on their own with no medical treatment, said Dr. Jean Bonhomme, an assistant professor at the Morehouse School of Medicine in Atlanta and president of the National Black Men's Health Network.
"Because it normally causes no symptoms, men and women can get it and pass it on without even knowing they have it," Bonhomme said.
There is an eventual price to pay for infection, even without any obvious symptoms. HPV has been shown to increase a man's chances of contracting penile and anal cancer, particularly for gay males. Men who have sex with men are about 17 times more likely to develop anal cancer than straight men, according to the CDC.
"These are relatively rare cancers," said Debbie Saslow, director of breast and gynecologic cancer programs for the American Cancer Society. "However, for men who have sex with other men, th
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