Commonly called HPV (human papillomavirus); some may choose to remain blissfully unaware, but HPV is the most common STD or STI out there. And despite the misconception that it only affects the ladies, men aren’t off the hook. HPV causes roughly 22,000 cancer cases per year— almost one-third of which occur in men.
Why It Matters
Genital HPV is a virus (just like a cold or stomach bug) that typically has no symptoms aside from abnormal pap-smears in women and (occasionally) genital warts. HPV is transmitted exclusively through sexual contact, typically through intercourse, but it can also be passed through oral sex or even just a little heavy making out. A staggering number of adults in the developed world(some sources say as high as 80%, though the CDC says it’s closer to 50%) have been exposed to HPV, and half of all new cases occur in people ages 15 to 24. You can imagine how many in other countries and cities such as Lagos, are exposed to HPV.
Though most fight off the infection without a problem, there is no cure for HPV and it can have some pretty serious repercussions in some cases, including certain types of cancer. Unfortunately, doctors can’t explain why certain HPV strains cause cancer, but the same strain responsible for cervical cancer has now been linked to throat cancer in both men and women (likely due to oral sex). And the throat isn’t the
only area at risk: HPV can also cause penile and anal cancers.
Give it a Shot? — The Answer/Debate
How’s this for a depressing thought: One studyin the US, found educating male college students on the dangers of cervical cancer for women did not encourage them to get the HPV vaccine themselves. But maybe this will: HPV can also cause genital warts, which affect roughly 1% of sexually active men in the U.S. Again hazard a guess as to possible number of affected persons for Nigeria and specifically for Lagos.
But all those blessings are about to be answered! (Maybe.) The HPV vaccine is approved for men ages 9 through 26 and can protect against four strains of the virus known to cause genital warts and cervical cancer. And a government panel in the US now recommends the vaccine for both preteen boys and girls (though it does still work all the way up to young adulthood).
So who’s most likely to benefit from the vaccine?
All and as we are talking men, boys aged 9 – 26 (Same age bracket are recommended for girls) Note that the vaccine is made to be taken before one becomes sexually active.
Before getting the vaccine, know that the vaccines available on the market are considered extremely safe by the Center for Disease Control ( which tracks diseases world- wide), but there are some side effects ranging from swelling or soreness at the injection site to fever and fainting. We’d say these alternatives are well worth dealing with if it means avoiding genital warts and cancer!
There’s currently no research suggesting the vaccine isn’t effective, only that it might be. So, when it comes down to it, males between age 9 and 26 can only benefit from getting the vaccine.
Plus, it may help protect your partner, too!
How can you get the vaccine in Lagos?
I wish I knew. The honest answer is that it is not known whether the vaccines are available for purchase in Lagos or not, or whether one can get any from a hospital.
How can I get the vaccine at all?
The vaccine is sold in pharmacies outside the country without doctor’s prescription, so it is more or less over the counter (OTC) drugs sort off. If you happen to find yourself out of Lagos, make enquiries in a pharmacy, you would be sure to get one, but if not available, ample information will be provided.