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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


“HPV not just a ‘woman’s issue,’ boys”

The daunting Human papillomavirus vaccination, approved by the FDA in 2006, is now available for boys and young men, ages 16 to 26.

Women are constantly warned against HPV by the plethora of often-frightening Gardasil commercials on television. While these commercials, along with women’s doctors, are correct in encouraging this vaccination, all the boys and men who sat back and allowed their female counterparts to take the hit must now face the reality that the vaccination has not only been approved, but is highly recommended for men.

Men are considered the reservoir, or transmitter, for the virus and can pass it on to their sexual partners, male or female, which is why “”many health professionals think vaccinating boys against HPV is the next logical step,”” according to Men’s Health Magazine.

According to a registered nurse at the UA Campus Health Center, the center plans on receiving the vaccination by late fall or winter and is very much in agreement with distributing the vaccination to men — exciting news for the young male Wildcats.

Although the highest rates of HPV-associated cancers are found in men who have sex with other men, men who have sex with women are definitely at risk. And while safe sex is one way to lessen the chances of catching the virus, it’s important to keep in mind that the virus can also be contracted orally, and not solely from genital to genital contact. There is, as Men’s Health recently reminded its readers, a “”strong correlation between oral sex and throat cancer from HPV. People with five or more oral sex partners are 2.5 times more likely to get throat cancer than those who don’t have oral sex.””

The issue, however, is that the HPV vaccination has been practically trademarked as a “”women’s shot.”” It has gained a feminine connotation that will potentially allow it to fall below the radar for a lot of young men.

“”Why would I care about HPV? Last time I checked, I can’t get cervical cancer,”” said Ron Rojany, a pre-business junior.

The lack of education about HPV and the fact that it has the ability to attack both men and women leaves men feeling unaccountable for its spread and effect on women. The constant pressure put on women to receive the vaccination places the responsibility of controlling this virus solely in their power.

It’s important that campus health centers make an effort to educate both their male and female students on the effects of HPV, making it clear that is not a “”woman’s problem”” and that both sexes are equally responsible for controlling it. The UA’s Campus Health Service plans on printing pamphlets and putting together advertisements for the vaccine, which is a necessary step because most men feel disconnected from the issue.

“”I had no idea there was a vaccination for men, and if I did, I would have no idea where to get it,”” admitted David Shapiro, a retailing and consumer sciences junior.

Despite its importance, however, there does seem to be a question of whether the UA’s, among other college campuses, student insurance policies will cover the HPV vaccination for men.

Oddly enough, according to Campus Health’s website, most insurance policies will cover the vaccination for women who meet the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines, a distinction which already sends the message that the vaccine is more necessary for women than men.

Regardless of the issues with insurance, men should highly consider getting vaccinated. The vaccination, although still remaining a necessity for women, has become a responsibility that sexually active boys and young men should take seriously. If both sexes take the initiative to get vaccinated, there is much a higher chance of eliminating this virus and stopping its spread.

— Alexandra Bortnik is a creative writing junior. She can be reached at


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