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  • Doctors Warn HPV Doesn’t Only Affect Women But Also Men And Even Kids

    There is a vaccine against human papillomavirus (HPV).
    by Jocelyn Valle .
Doctors Warn HPV Doesn’t Only Affect Women But Also Men And Even Kids
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  • The human papillomavirus (HPV) has long been associated with women and cervical cancer. But doctors warn that HPV for men can also develop into various forms of cancer. Good thing, there is just one HPV vaccine that's applicable for both genders and different age groups.

    Doctors Portia Charisma Ruth A. Ortiz, Jovanni R. Templonuevo, and Mary Ann Galang-Escalona discussed at length the subject matter in an online press conference held recently to spread HPV awareness and prevention.

    Dubbed "HPV: A Battle for Both Sexes," the virtual presser was organized in support of Guard Against HPV. It is an advocacy campaign of the healthcare group MSD in the Philippines.

    What is HPV?

    HPV is a virus that can cause various diseases, notably genital warts and cancer. It remains the most common sexually transmitted virus worldwide, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Approximately 85 percent of people get infected by HPV at one point in their lives.

    In a 2019 study published in the online journal Infectious Disease and Cancer, it was found that genital warts have an overall prevalence of 3 percent among Filipino men and women, with a higher prevalence among men.

    Among HPV-related cancers, cervical cancer remains a top concern. The HPV Information Center reported in a 2019 study that 7,190 new cases of cervical cancer are diagnosed annually in the Philippines. It also said that almost 4,088 women die from this disease every year.

    How men are affected by HPV?

    Dr. Templonuevo, a family medicine and genito-urinary medicine (venereology) specialist, zeroed in on HPV's effect on men in his talk, "Bagong Macho: The Role of Men in Cancer Prevention" during the virtual presser.

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    He said, "Most men with HPV may not have any symptoms. Unknowingly, they're transferring the virus to their partners." In fact, he added, he's had many patients who only found out they had HPV after having themselves checked for other health concerns.

    Dr. Templonuevo, who's the vice-president of the Philippine Society of Venereology (PSV), also said men can develop from persistent infection diseases such as:

    • Genital warts
    • Penile cancer
    • Anal cancer

    But he pointed out, addressing to the male population:

    • HPV transmission is preventable and you have the control.
    • Educate yourselves.
    • Follow safe sex practices, such as the correct and consistent use of condoms. It’s one way of lowering the chances of spreading the infection.
    • You need to be vaccinated.

    HPV affects men, women, and kids

    Aside from men and women, said Dr. Ortiz, a dermatologist and venereology specialist, children as young as newborn can be get the HPV infection. When an infected mother, for instance, gives birth through vaginal delivery, her baby can get infected while passing through the birth canal.

    She also noted seeing patients who had been sexually abused as kids and developed genital warts, anal warts, and other sexually transmitted infection (STI).

    Dr. Ortiz, who's the president of PSV, gave more insight into genital warts. She said that while genital warts are not cancerous, they are benign lesions that may cause significant morbidity among men and women.

    She pointed out that genital warts usually show up at least two weeks to eight months and even years. The signs and symptoms to watch out for include:

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    • Skin manifestations around the genitals that look like a cauliflower or mole
    • Discomfort and itchiness
    • Bleeding, especially when scratched

    HPV vaccine for both genders and all age groups

    There's only one HPV vaccine for men, women, and children. But there are differences in dosing, amount, and frequency of giving the vaccine.

    Dr. Galang-Escalona, a pediatrician passionate about vaccinology, gave an insightful explanation on the HPV vaccine: "The earlier you do it, the earlier you get protection. It can be done as early as 9 years old. We now have three types of vaccine available in the Philippines."

    These are: vaccine that covers for 2 strains; vaccine that covers for 4 strains; and vaccine that covers for 9 strains.

    Dr. Galang-Escalona, who's the country medical lead of MSD in the Philippines, advised parents to see their doctor to have a better understanding of the vaccine for them and their children at least 9 years old. After all, HPV for men is the same for women and children.

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