Urgent warning as one in five men now infected with potentially cancerous virus – and most will have no idea | The Sun
ONE in five men globally are infected with a potentially cancerous virus, scientists have discovered.
They found 21 per cent of men aged 15 and over have at least one high risk human papillomavirus (HPV).
HPV is sexually transmitted but – because it doesn't tend to cause symptoms or problems – most people don't even know they have it.
There are about 200 different strains of the disease, most of which are harmless and resolve on their own.
But two strains – HPV16 and HPV18 – can trigger genital, cervical, head, neck, throat and mouth cancer.
In response to the findings, published in the Lancet Global Health journal, the World Health Organization (WHO) said that more must be done to reduce the risk for men and curb the spread of infection.
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In the UK, a HPV vaccine, which protects against some of the risky forms of the disease, is offered to girls and boys aged 12 and 13 in school Year 8.
Girls have been offered the jab since 2008, while boys were added into the programme in 2019 in the hope that HPV-related cancer cases would fall dramatically in the future.
After the systematic review, which analysed the health data of 44,000 men across 65 previous studies, the international team of researchers estimated that one in three men globally are infected with genital HPV.
The findings also suggested one in five had a “high risk”, potentially cancerous form of the disease.
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Infection rates overall were high among men aged 15 to 19 – suggesting they are being infected with the bug soon after their first sexual activity.
Recent government figures showed that HPV vaccine coverage decreased by seven per cent in Year 8 girls and 8.7 per cent in Year 8 boys in 2021 to 2022, when compared to the previous academic year.
If a school child misses their doses, you can speak to the school jab team or GP surgery to book as soon as possible.
What is HPV?
Human papillomavirus (HPV) is the name of a very common group of viruses.
They don't cause any problems in most people, but some types can cause genital warts or cancer.
HPV doesn't usually cause symptoms so most people don't even realise they have it.
But sometimes the virus can cause painless growths or lumps around your vagina, penis or anus – these are called genital warts.
HPV can affect your mouth, throat and genital area.
It tends to be transmitted through sex and you don't need to have penetrative sex to get it.
You can get it from:
- any skin-to-skin contact of the genital area
- vaginal, anal or oral sex
- sharing sex toys
Some types of the virus can cause abnormal changes in the cells that can sometimes turn into cancer.
Aside from head and neck cancer, high-risk HPV is also linked to:
- cervical cancer
- anal cancer
- penile cancer
- vulval cancer
- vaginal cancer
HPV testing is part of cervical screening, which is offered to all women and people with a cervix aged 25 to 64 to identify and protect against cervical cancer.
Some sexual health clinics may offer anal screening to men with a higher risk of developing anal cancer, such as men who have sex with men.
You can't fully protect yourself against HPV but condoms can go some way towards protecting you.
The HPV vaccine will safeguard you against most types of the virus, but not all.
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