What is the deal with HPV? Can guys get it? How can I prevent getting the infection? Does it ever go away? — Curious Hypochondriac in Chicago, IL
The Human Papilloma Virus is basically a group of viruses that include different strains and types. Roughly 30 of these viruses are sexually transmitted, and can infect the genital area of men and women.
Some stats, after the jump…
1) At least 50 percent of sexually active men and women acquire genital HPV infection.
2) By age 50, 80 percent of women will get it.
3) Most men who get HPV never develop any symptoms.
The GOOD news is that most of the time, you’ll get HPV and your body will clear the virus on its own without ANY symptoms. Rarely, people will either get “low-risk” or “high-risk” types of HPV. “Low-risk” types might cause genital warts, while “high risk” types could lead to cervical cancer.
How do you prevent it? Well, if you’re between the ages of 9-26, you can get the new vaccine that’s on the market. (Apparently insurance companies will only cover it for that demographic. If you’re older, you should ask your doctor if you are a good candidate.) Without the vaccine, you can’t really prevent HPV if you’re sexually active, since condoms won’t fully protect you. The best thing you can do is go for your annual Pap test and make sure you get tested for the virus.