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Home HPV and Men HPV and Men Psychosocial Reactions: Men and HPV

Psychosocial Reactions: Men and HPV

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Because of cervical cancer, HPV research understandably focuses more on women than men. Women deal with the bulk of HPV-related diseases and HPV tests are only approved for clinical use with females. Men aren’t totally removed from the equation, though. The approval in 2009 of Gardasil for use with males to treat genital warts, along with the increased understanding that the impact of HPV diseases in men who have sex with men (MSM) is not insignificant, means males are garnering more attention. This is highlighted in research presented at the 2010 STD Prevention Conference that examined the emotional impact of HPV in men.

One study, led by investigators from the Merck Research Institute, used detailed surveys to examine the psychosocial impact among both heterosexual man and MSM who had a variety of HPV-related diagnosis, including genital, anal, and penile warts and, among MSM participants, HPV-associated anal diseases (including precancerous cell changes). Both straight and gay men largely regarded genital warts as a “nuisance” but expressed a good deal of worry about relationships, including exposing a partner to HPV. Many of the subjects were also worried about beginning new sexual relationships after diagnosis. Recurrences were another area of concern.

Anal diseases were especially troubling among MSM, with subjects citing concerns about complications (like cancer) and many reporting depression and concerns about partners.

Another study, led by a team from the University of South Florida, assessed the emotional impact with subjects who were tested for HPV as part of a natural history study with men. The negative reaction of men with positive HPV tests was described by the authors as “generally low to moderate.” Compared to their counterparts who tested negative, men with positive HPV tests predictably were much more likely to report feeling concerned (62%), confused (36%), shocked or frustrated (32%). Similarly, those testing positive were also more prone to report feeling scared, guilty, depressed, or angry.

Men have many questions about HPV, and often express frustration over the lack of HPV educational materials directed to them. In response, ASHA has developed HPV resources based, in part, on our own research examining the most common queries from men who utilize our HPV contact centers. View our latest offering here.

Ellen Daley,Eric Buhl, Stephanie Marhefka, Cheryl Vamos, Chris Wheldon, and Natalie Hernandez. Males Receiving HPV Test Results: A Unique Opportunity to Assess Emotional Responses in Men. Oral presentation D3f at the 2010 STD Prevention Conference, Atlanta, GA.
T. Christopher Mast, Carla Demuro, Arthur Granger, and Stephen Goldstone. The Psychosocial Impact of Human Papillomavirus (HPV) and Related Interventions Among Heterosexual Men (HSM) and Men Who Have Sex with Men (MSM). Poster presentation P191 at the 2010 STD Prevention Conference, Atlanta, GA.