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Anxiety About HPV

Dec 19, 2012

I note the AIDS-related cancer forum has gone inactive, so I am posting this here as I have anxiety about a prior HPV infection (anal warts) that was surgically treated. I understand this can increases the risk of anal cancer that is often overlooked. Are there tests I can have done that might allay these fears? Something is not quite right with my bowel movements but in the area of the country where I am, there does not appear to be much awareness (or concern) about HPV's impact on gay men.

Response from Dr. Fawcett

Thanks for writing. There are a number of varieties of Human Papilloma Virus (HPV), a few of which can cause anal cancers. The virus is spread through sexual contact and, once infected, one remains infected for life. It is estimated that 60% of gay men and 90% of gay men living with HIV/AIDS carry the HPV virus. It can lead to cervical cancers in women and anal cancers in men. This has often been overlooked in gay men and has resulted in anal cancers. If cellular changes are detected early through surveillance there are much better treatment options.

It has become the standard of care where I live (with high numbers of gay men) to have annual PAP smears to detect such changes. Since you are in an area without high awareness you may have to educate your physicians about the need for such screening tests. Here are some resources with more information: one from the CDC and one from an LGBT community center.

Get screened!


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