There is an injection that prevents warts and cancer in gay men, but few can access treatment. Something must change, and change quickly.
HPV stands for Human Papillomavirus, a virus that causes genital warts, oral cancer, anal cancer, and, in women, cervical cancer. A vaccine against the most common and virulent strains of this virus has been around for years, but most governments have restricted access to young women. While this approach is successful in reducing the rates of cervical cancer in women, the gay male community continues to go on without protection.
Gay men are 15 times more likely than straight men to develop anal cancer. The rates of head and neck cancers secondary to HPV infection have also skyrocketed in the gay community, particularly in younger age groups.
This is scary. This is dangerous. This is preventable.
The HPV vaccination guidelines by the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control are outdated and they neglect men who have sex with men. This is extremely critical for the future health of the gay community.
Numerous public health bodies around the world have recommended that all young gay men receive the HPV vaccine; but most men are charged hundreds of Euros for the same injection that is free for women.
With support from recent data showing significant health benefits to vaccinating men, I encourage all of us to contact our doctors, our public health agencies, and our governments to fight for universal vaccination.
Mr Gay Europe 2013/2014