HPV Vaccination for Gay Men
Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) is a common sexually transmitted infection passed through oral, anal, and/or genital sexual contact. It is most widely known for causing cervical cancer in women. It is less known that HPV has been linked to oral and anal cancers in gay men, not to mention genital and anal warts.
While condoms can reduce the risk of transmission, it does not wholly eliminate the possibility of HPV. A routine HPV immunization campaign has been implemented in British Columbia for young girls to protect them and their sexual partners from the most prevalent strains of the virus. The vaccine, Gardasil, is not offered to boys and men free of charge.
HIM has developed a position paper on the issue that you can read here.
We have pledged to work with partners, local health authorities, and gay men to increase the knowledge and uptake of the HPV vaccine.
Accessing Gardasil (the HPV vaccine)
Gardasil is not currently covered for boys and men in BC, despite being a recommended immunization. Several options exist for those wishing to access Gardasil, but first you need a prescription from your doctor or healthcare provider.
Some doctors may be resistant to prescribe the Gardasil vaccine as it has been primarily promoted for women. Ask your doctor to visit Immunize BC’s website which lists recommended adult vaccines. Once you have a prescription there are two ways to access Gardasil from a pharmacy:
1) Pay for the vaccine (cost is $150 per dose, 3 does are needed) OR
2) Private Health Insurance may cover the vaccine
Some things to remember about HPV and Gardasil:
1) HPV is common (studies show more than 60% of sexually active gay men have one strain)
2) HPV is preventable (a vaccine called Gardasil exists that prevents four strains of HPV)
3) Timing is crucial. Gardasil is most effective if taken before boys become sexually active, however there is evidence that suggests all boys and men can benefit, especially those under the age of 26
4) A Gardasil prescription is easily accessed from a doctor
5) A Gardasil prescription may be covered by private health insurance