HPV prevention is missing some young sexual minority men

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Research finds that young minority gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men have high rates of HPV infection, despite the availability of a vaccine that can prevent infection.

“The lack of HPV vaccination in sexual minority men is a missed prevention opportunity,” says lead author Perry Halkitis, dean of Rutgers School of Public Health. “We are already witnessing higher rates of HPV-related cancers in older gay and sexual minority men, which is completely avoidable and preventable in more recent generations.

“Additionally, we know that those living with HIV are much more likely to be impacted by HPV infection and HPV-related cancers. Given that sexual minority men are also at highest risk for testing positive for HIV, there is an urgency in ensuring HPV vaccination before these young men engage in sexual behavior.”

The study, which appears in AIDS Patient Care and STDs, examines the prevalence of HPV exposure, HIV infection, and HPV vaccination in a group of men whose average age was 23 and were predominantly members of ethnic or racial minority groups.

The researchers found that over 58 percent of the participants had the virus but only 18 percent had received the full dose of the HPV vaccine.

The team also found an association between HIV and HPV oral infection and vaccine-preventable HPV. Both neighborhood poverty and HIV infection, on the other hand, associated with anal HPV.

“The HPV vaccination was recently expanded to include men and women between ages 27 and 45; previously, it was only approved for men and women ages 9 to 26,” Halkitis says. “With the uptake of the HPV vaccine incredibly low in the United States, there is an urgent need for outreach to at-risk and underserved populations.”

Source: Rutgers University