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Digital Subscriptions > GCN > 333 > The HPV Strain

The HPV Strain

For the past four months the Health Service Executive has been rolling out a vaccine to young men under 26 years of age, free of charge, against a sexually transmitted infection that can cause anal and penile cancers. But the HPV vaccine is not without its detractors, in particular a group led by mothers of young girls who they say sufered adverse reactions following mass vaccination in Irish schools. Aifric Ní Chríodáin reports on a sexual healthcare drive that’s causing bitter division.

In Australia, over nine million doses of Gardasil have been administered to boys and girls for over a decade.

HPV, or human papillomavirus, is a sexually transmitted infection which can be transmitted via skin-to-skin contact.

It can also be transmitted through anal, oral, or vaginal sex. Strains of the infection can cause anal cancer, penile cancer, cervical cancer and oropharyngeal cancer (cancer of the back of the throat, including the base of the tongue and tonsils). HPV can also cause genital warts in men and women. HPV is the most common sexually transmitted infection worldwide, with three in four people aged between 15 and 24 carrying the virus. The virus contains 100 strains, of which the vast majority present no noticeable symptoms and cause no long-term health issues. Strains 6, 11, 16, and 18 are responsible for 70 per cent of the previously mentioned cancers and genital warts.

Overall, HPV is responsible for 5.2 per cent of cancer worldwide – 90 per cent of anal cancers, 70 per cent of cervical cancers, 65 per cent of vaginal cancers, 60 per cent of oropharyngeal cancers, 50 per cent of vulvar cancers and 35 per cent of penile cancers. Although HPV is perhaps most notorious for its links to cervical cancer in young women; men who have sex with men (MSM) are also at risk of anal, oropharyngeal, and penile cancers resulting from the virus. MSM do not benefit from the ‘herd immunity’ conferred through vaccinating adolescent girls. MSM – in particular

HIV-infected MSM – have a higher incidence of sexually transmitted infections, including HPV, compared to the general population.

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About GCN

This month take an in-depth look at the problems and issues facing Irish LGBT+ young people in our annual Youth issue in collaboration with BeLonG To. In our featured interview, Roscommon's own Xnthony talks fake authenticity, rural queerness and rebranding ahead of his Dublin Fringe show, The Power of Wow. Huge misinformation exists amongst young people around HIV transmission and it's all because of a lack of suitable sexual education in Irish schools, writes Ralph Hurley O'Dwyer. Members of trans youth group IndividualiTy tells us about their ups and downs after a decade mentoring and supporting trans kids. BeLonG To's Drugs and Alcohol Worker Ger Roe shares his experiences of helping LGBT+ young people feel empowered, and to become agents of social change. Aifric Ni Chríodáin reports on the HSE's rolling out of the HPV vaccine among gay and bisexual men. Our Budding Burning Issues survey throws up some interesting facts around the opinions of our youngest community members, Plus all the best in news, edutainment, gossip, food and much more.
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