HPV Home > HPV in Men

In men, HPV is just as common as it is in women; however, some groups of men are more likely to develop diseases like genital warts and cancer than others. Symptoms of HPV do not always appear, and a disease can occur months or even years after contact with an infected partner. Effective ways of preventing HPV include wearing condoms and being in a mutually monogamous relationship.

Understanding HPV in Men

HPV is one of the most common causes of sexually transmitted disease (STD) in the United States and across the globe. The term "HPV" is simply an acronym for the human papillomavirus. Approximately 20 million people are currently infected with this virus. About 6.2 million Americans get a new genital HPV infection each year.
More than 100 different types of HPV exist, most of which are harmless. More than 30 types are spread through sexual contact. Some types of HPV cause genital warts -- single or multiple bumps that appear in the genital areas of men and women, including the vagina, cervix, vulva (the area outside of the vagina), penis, and rectum. On the other hand, many people infected with HPV have no symptoms.
At least 50 percent of sexually active men acquire genital HPV at some time in their lives. HPV infection occurs as frequently in men as it does in women (see HPV in Women).
Certain groups of men are more likely to develop HPV-related diseases. For example, gay and bisexual men are about 17 times more likely to develop anal cancer than heterosexual men. Men with weak immune systems, including those who have HIV or AIDS, are more likely than other men to develop anal cancer. Men with HIV are also more likely to get severe cases of genital warts that are harder to treat.

How Do Men Contract HPV?

HPV is spread through skin-to-skin contact. Men get genital HPV through genital-to-genital contact, primarily during vaginal and anal intercourse. It might also be possible to acquire it during oral sex, although this is thought to be rare.
(Click HPV Transmission for more information.)
Written by/reviewed by:
Last reviewed by: Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
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