Shot for Preventing Genital Warts Works in Men

WASHINGTON – A vaccine for human papillomavirus (HPV), which can be transmitted by sexual contract, prevents 90 percent of genital warts in men.

A four-year clinical trial and double-blind study that included 4,065 healthy men aged 16-26 years, spanning 71 sites in 18 countries, provides the first reported results of using the HPV vaccine as a preventive measure in men.

HPV causes common warts of the hands and feet, as well as lesions of the mucous membranes of the oral, anal, and genital areas. The virus can also be found in cancer of the cervix.

Of those patients, 85 percent reported having exclusively female sexual partners, with the remainder self-identified as having sex with men, the New England Journal of Medicine reports.

While the HPV vaccine was approved in 2006 for girls to prevent cervical cancer, the vaccine’s benefit for young men was not initially addressed, according to a University of California statement.

Yet, infection and diseases caused by HPV are common in men, the researchers said, including genital warts, which are one of the leading sexually transmitted diseases (STD) for which treatment is sought nationwide.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that half of all sexually active Americans will get HPV at some point in their lives.

“This is an exciting development in the STD world,” said Joel Palefsky, University of California professor of medicine who led the research along with epidemiologist Anna R. Giuliano from the H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Centre and Research Institute.

“It shows that if we vaccinate males early enough, we should be able to prevent most cases of external genital warts in this population,” he added.