A warts and all guide to HPV for gay and bi guys
Did you know that gay and bi guys aged 20-34 who are living in NSW can get a free HPV vaccination until 31st December 2018?
Great news right!? But maybe you’re also thinking…uh, what is HPV? And why should we be getting vaccinated against it? Well, let me explain.
What is HPV?
The Human Papillomavirus (HPV) is a super common sexually transmitted infection. HPV is the virus that can cause genital warts, anal warts and can lead to an increased risk of certain types of cancer. There are many different strains of HPV and only some strains of HPV cause genital or anal warts, while others can lead to cancer, though generally this is a rare occurrence. Most sexually active gay guys will get HPV at some point in their lives and it’s usually not a big deal.
Still, because it can cause genital and anal warts, as well increasing your risk of anal cancer, it’s better for your health if you can avoid it.
While carrying HPV is very common, only about 10% of guys who have HPV will ever develop visible warts. These usually go away on their own, but can also be treated with creams or paints. They can also be burnt or frozen off by a doctor.
HPV is passed on from skin to skin contact, anal sex and occasionally via oral sex. Condoms offer some protection, but because they don’t cover your balls or arse, they are not super effective at preventing HPV transmission. So, even the most conscientious of us are likely to encounter HPV at some point. And honey, she could be anywhere.
Why gay and bi guys should get vaccinated for HPV
Getting vaccinated is a good idea for gay and bi guys because we’re at an increased risk of HPV infection that doesn’t go away by itself. You’re most at risk if you’re a bottom. In fact, bottoms are around 50 times more likely to develop anal cancer than other men. Gay and bi guys are also 3-5 times more likely than hetero men to develop genital/anal warts. If you’re a poz guy, your risk for anal cancer is increased even more.
Getting vaccinated for HPV
As there is no cure for HPV, getting vaccinated is your best bet if you want to reduce your risk of genital warts and anal cancer. If you’re gay or bi, aged 20-34 and based in NSW you can get the vaccine for free. Absolutely nothing, literally zero, zilch!
The vaccine on offer, Gardasil, is super effective at preventing the types of HPV that are the most likely to cause anal cancer and genital warts. The types prevented by the vaccine cause up to 90% of HPV-related anal cancers and almost all genital and anal warts.
The three vaccine shots needed ordinarily cost around $450 total, so if you are the type who is highly motivated by saving some serious $$$, then this is a deal for you. Getting a free vaccine that can prevent anal cancer is a no brainer!
Where to get your free HPV vaccine
If you’re guy who has sex with other guys and between the ages of 20-34 you can get your hands on the free vaccine from sexual health clinics across NSW. The free vaccinations are only available until 31st December 2018, so the clock is ticking boys.
Ring the NSW Sexual Health Infolink on 1800 451 624 to find your nearest clinic, or find a clinic through the where to get tested tool. a[TEST] sites currently do not carry the Gardasil vaccine, though other public clinics will have the vaccine available.
To find out more about HPV, its symptoms and treatment, click here.