Young men who have sex with other men aren’t aware of their risk for contracting human papillomavirus (HPV), according to a new study.
The study, which was recently published in the Journal of Community Health, found that many men in their 20s who have sex with other men don’t know much about HPV. According to US News, this includes a lack of knowledge about how it’s transmitted, its symptoms, and how it contributes to cancer risk. On top of that, researchers found that healthcare providers rarely discuss HPV and the vaccine with young men.
“Particularly in light of the decades-long focus on gay men’s health care as HIV care, there is a missed opportunity for HPV prevention in the community,” said study co-author Caleb LoSchiavo, a doctoral research assistant at the School of Public Health at Rutgers University in Piscataway, N.J.
“Clinicians have a direct role in expanding the availability of LGBTQ-competent health care<” said lead study author Jessica Jaiswal who is a postdoctoral fellow associated with Rutgers’ Center for Health, Identity, Behavior, and Prevention Studies (CHIBPS).
“By learning about sexual minority men’s diverse health needs and routinely offering the HPV vaccine, we can move toward a health promotion model and not only a disease prevention model,” she added in a press release.
HPV is a sexually transmitted disease that can lead to cancer. There are many different types of cancer that could develop because of HPV, including cancers in the anus and penis. 14 million new cases of HPV are diagnosed each year, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Gay and bisexual men are particularly at risk for HPV because of the high rates of smoking and HIV. In addition, the lack of knowledge among men leads to low HPV vaccination.