The Hunt for Anal Vectors


A largescale study conducted in two parts of the world has revealed that roughly one in four heterosexual men have anal human papillomavirus (HPV) infection. The condition is traditionally associated with women, who undergo the familiar “pap smear” to detect its presence, while the incidence in men was assumed to be much lower. Until recently, there was no effective test for HPV in men, but now there is and, guess what? According to a report in the June 15th issue of The Journal of Infectious Diseases, samples of men in the Netherlands and Brazil found rates of anal HPV infection (in both the anal canal and the perianal region) to rival women’s vaginal rates. Since men are, in today’s curious lingo, the “vector” of this infection for women, this finding does raise an intriguing question, which research leader Alan Nyitray posed with classic scientific undertatement: “There are a number of questions this study raises. For instance, how was HPV transmitted to the perianal region and anal canal of these men.” How indeed? Are we to conclude that vast numbers of Dutch and Brazilian men are going down on other men on a regular basis? Perhaps not, but it’s a puzzlement, that’s for sure. The hunt for a vector is on.

Source: Reuters Health Information 2008


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Discussion3 Comments

  1. This is definitely most fascinating and seems a good symptom of the fact that many heterosexual men may have more interesting tastes and fetishes then previously though.

  2. This is very interesting, indeed. It may indicate that “heterosexual” men have more varied behavior than they would every admit. However, it could just as easily mean that HPV spreads in ways not yet understood. Recall that just a few short years ago it was firmly held by the public health community that HPV was only spread through anal or vaginal sex. It is now known that HPV is also spread orally, and is behind a significant number of throat and esophageal cancers. HPV infections are also reported in immuno-compromised pediatric patients, in the absence of any indication of sexual contact. The behavior of these men, and the biology of HPV are not mutually exclusive, but I would predict that the real new news here is about HPV and its methods of infection.

    TomY, HPV transforms the cells it infects, so I think it would be a cancer risk anywhere in the body it is found.

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