Although there are more than 30 to 40 different strains of HPV, the virus is typically transmitted though skin-to-skin sexual contact and can cause genital warts and cervical, anal, and penile cancers among others.
In a study conducted by the H Lee Moffitt Cancer Center and Research Institute, researchers studied 1,100 men ranging from ages 18 to 70 in the U.S., Brazil, and Mexico to see how the HPV virus progressed in men over time.
What they found may help fight cancer in both men and women.
The Associated Press reports,
“[Researches] found that the rate at which men acquire new HPV infections is very similar to women.
And they found that about 6 percent of men per year will get a new HPV 16 infection, the strain that is known for causing cervical cancer in women and other cancers in men.”
Currently, the Centers for Disease Control advises young women to get the HPV vaccine because it can help prevent cervical cancer—one of the most popular cancers in women. But in light of this study researchers suggest that men may also benefit from the vaccine.
“This study highlights the high incidence of HPV infection in men, which emphasizes their role in transmission of HPV to women,” Dr. Anne Szarewski of the Wolfson Institute of Preventive Medicine in London said.
“It must surely strengthen the argument for vaccination of men, both for their own protection, and that of their partners.”
Currently, there are only two ways to protect yourself against contracting the HPV vaccine–abstinence or obtaining the vaccine, so until more men get vaccinated it’s up to you to protect yourself.