Human papillomavirus or HPV is found in almost half of American men, a new study confirmed. HPV can cause infections that, in most cases, cause no symptoms and resolve spontaneously. But in some cases, the infection can lead to precancerous lesions, increasing the risk of cancer.
The study was conducted by Jasmine Han, from the Womack Army Medical Center and her colleagues. They have found that around 45 percent of men in the US are infected with HPV as well as 22 percent of women. Unlike women, men have higher chances to stay infected as they get older.
The study used data gathered from 1,900 men who participated in the 2013-2014 U.S. National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. The researchers tested penile swab samples to find out the prevalence of the HPV in males.
The lowest prevalence of the HPV virus was found in the age group of 18 to 22, where only 29 percent of participants were infected, explained by the fact that younger men are vaccinated against HPV.
As the participants grew older, a larger percent of them suffered from infection, In the age group that includes men between 23 and 27 years of old, prevalence was 47 percent, and in the age group of 58 and 59, prevalence was highest.
With women, the number of infected persons gets lower as they get older. The highest infection prevalence was found with younger women. The high percent of infected males is explained with a fact that the virus stays in the penile glands, while with women, HPV stays near the surface of the vagina, and is more easily shed.
Researchers who conducted the study hope that the results will make the population more aware of the HPV infection, leading to the rise of vaccination rate. They wrote that “Our study provides the first national estimate to date of the genital HPV infection prevalence among men aged 18 to 59 years in the United States,” and that “Our study indicates that male HPV vaccination may have a greater effect on HPV infection transmission and cancer prevention in men and women than previously estimated.”