HPV (Human Papilloma Virus) is a human virus that can cause warts, genital warts and precancerous changes of the cervix, penis or anus. High-risk types are more associated with precancerous changes, and low-risk types are more associated with warts.
According to the CDC, among U.S. adults ages 18-59 in 2013-2014, about 45 percent of men and 40 percent of women had genital HPV infection. Among these, 25 percent of men and 20 percent of women had high-risk genital HPV infection.
In the U.S., women ages 21-65 are screened for precancerous cervical cells (Pap smear) and HPV infection every 1-3 years, depending on their personal history. As of 2012, the CDC does not recommend routine screening for HPV, penile cancer or anal cancer for men, and there is no FDA-approved test for HPV screening. However, the HPV vaccine is recommended for boys ages 11-26.
My medical opinion is that we are doing a disservice to men and the people they have sex with by failing to test routinely for penile HPV. It is known that HPV transmission rates via unprotected anal and vaginal sex are high. A 1996 study in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute found that men are significant vectors for transmission of high-risk HPV to their wives. “The presence of HPV DNA in the husbands' penis conveyed a fivefold risk of cervical cancer to their wives.”
In my opinion, this should be a major public health concern
What other known, preventable condition that has the potential to increase cancer risk fivefold is so disregarded by the CDC? In our practice at San Francisco Natural Medicine, we do offer and routinely recommend penile HPV DNA testing.
Who Should Be Screened for Penile HPV?
- Men with female partners that have cervical dysplasia
- Men that are planning to have unprotected sex
- Non-virgin men that are entering a new sexual relationship
- Men that have penetrative anal sex
- Men that have sex with escorts
How to Get Screened
- San Francisco Natural Medicine offers penile HPV testing via West Coast Pathology Labs
- Call to make an initial brief appointment 415-643-6600
- The test is a simple penile swab the patient does in privacy.
- SFNM sends the sample out and informs the patient of their results in a 30-minute follow-up.
- If the test is positive, offer antiviral and immune supportive botanical and nutritional treatment options.
Who Should Disclose They Have Penile HPV?
Obviously, this is a personal, ethical decision, but it’s my medical opinion that it’s a conversation that should be had between sexual partners so that each person can make an informed decision about their sexual practice. I recommend condoms if you haven’t had this discussion
How to Protect Yourself
Have the conversation, get tested, request partners to be tested, and use condoms to reduce risk of transmission.
Dr. Claire Graser specializes in holistic detoxification, women’s health, hormone balancing, weight loss, anxiety and stress management, as well as abdominal massage to support healthy digestion and detox. Dr. Graser creates comprehensive wellness plans for patients at San Francisco Natural Medicine Tue-Fri and is currently accepting new patients. Call 415-643-6600 to schedule a complimentary 15-minute consult.