HPV Access Among Minority Men

Lack of HPV Vaccination in Young Minority Men Is Not a Matter of Access

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Perry N Halkitis, PhD, MS, MPH
Dean and Professor
Department of Urban-Global Public Health
Rutgers Public Health 

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? 

Response: The rate of human papillomavirus (HPV) infection is high among young minority gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men despite the availability of a vaccine that can prevent the infection, a Rutgers School of Public Health study found.

MedicalResearch.com: What are the main findings? 

Response: The study, conducted by the Rutgers Center for Health, Identity, Behavior and Prevention Studies, examined the prevalence of HPV exposure, HIV infection and HPV vaccination in this population whose average age was 23 and predominantly members of ethnic or racial minority groups. The researchers found that over 58 percent of the participants were infected with the virus but only 18 percent had received the full dose of the HPV vaccine.

The team also found that HIV was associated with HPV oral infection and vaccine-preventable HPV, whereas both neighborhood poverty and HIV infection were associated with anal HPV. 

MedicalResearch.com: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this work?

Response: With the uptake of the HPV vaccine incredibly low in the United States, there is an urgent need for outreach to at-risk and underserved populations. The lack of HPV vaccination in sexual minority men is a missed prevention opportunity. We are witnessing higher rates of HPV-related cancers in older gay and sexual minority men, which is completely avoidable and preventable in more recent generations with vaccination. Additionally, we know that those living with HIV are much more likely to be impacted by HPV infection and HPV-related cancers. Given that sexual minority men are also at highest risk for testing positive for HIV, there is an urgency in ensuring HPV vaccination before these young men engage in sexual behavior.

MedicalResearch.com: Is there anything else you would like to add?

Response: The use of the HPV vaccine in older HIV-positive adults warrants further evaluation. That being said, HPV vaccine use in such cases is currently considered an “off-label” usage despite evidence suggesting decreases in recurrence of high-grade anal intraepithelial neoplasia in individuals receiving vaccination. 

These results suggest that lack of HPV vaccination in young sexual minority men is not presently directed by access. Instead, a lack of education regarding HPV vaccination and infection may be the driver of this health challenge

Financial disclosure

This research was funded by grants from the National Institute on Drug Abuse (1R01DA0225537; 2R01DA025537) and the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (R01AI132020; R56AI122000)

AIDS Patient Care STDS. 2019 Apr;33(4):149-156. doi: 10.1089/apc.2018.0276.

Human Papillomavirus Vaccination and Infection in Young Sexual Minority Men: The P18 Cohort Study.

Halkitis PN1,2,3,4,5, Valera P1,2, LoSchiavo CE1,2, Goldstone SE6, Kanztanou M7, Maiolatesi AJ2, Ompad DC2,8, Greene RE2,9, Kapadia F2,8. 

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Last Updated on April 8, 2019 by Marie Benz MD FAAD