Nearly 1 percent of sexually-active men contract genital warts—a common symptom of genital human papillomavirus (HPV). Various HPV strains — there are more than 40 in total — can affect mouth, throat, anus and penis, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Many men diagnosed with HPV don’t develop health problems. However, there are types of HPV that can cause genital warts. Or, in some cases, some strains of HPV can cause penile, anal, colorectal or oral cancers.
The CDC estimates that each year 400 men get HPV-related penile cancer and 1,500 men get anal cancer. Nearly 6,000 men suffer from oral cancer. Tobacco and alcohol use also contributed to those cases.
Gay men are nearly 20 times more likely to get anal cancer than straight men. HIV-positive men have even more of a chance to develop anal cancer. They’re also more apt to contract genital warts, which are more resistant to treatment.
Signs and symptoms include growths on the penis, testicles, groin, thighs or anus. Warts, which can appear weeks or months after sexual contact, usually don’t hurt.
A journal study published in The New England Journal of Medicine found that men and boys can use the HPV vaccine to prevent against genital warts. More than 4,000 males, ages 16 to 26, from nearly 20 countries with HPV-6, HPV-11, HPV-16 and HPV-18 got possible protection through vaccination, according to the study.
In 2011, the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices of the CDC endorsed vaccinating boys as young as 11 against HPV. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved Cervarix and Gardasil as HPV vaccines.