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Vaccine May Help Prevent 'Gay Cancer'


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Vaccine May Help Prevent 'Gay Cancer'

by Beth Shapiro 365Gay.com New York Bureau

Posted: October 7, 2005 3:00 pm ET

(New York City) A new vaccine developed by Merck may prove instrumental in curbing anal cancer among men who have sex with men.

The vaccine, being touted as a miracle drug in the treatment of cervical cancer, has not been tested on gay men Merck said, but the company said that it has plans to eventually market it to men.

Human papilloma virus, or HPV, is a common cause of death in men with HIV.

The vaccine, called Gardasil, is also said to be effective in preventing genital warts.

Merck announced that a two-year study, involving more than 12,000 women showed the vaccine protected virtually all the women who took it from cervical cancer. Details were released at a meeting of the Infectious Diseases Society of America.

The company did not say why the vaccine was not tested on men, but the results were called encouraging by LGBT health advocates.

"We need to ensure that the medical community focuses on solutions to diseases that affect all Americans - including gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender Americans." Jay Smith Brown a spokesperson for the Human Rights Campaign told 365Gay.com

There are more than 2.5 million cases of HPV among men annually in the US according to the Gay Men's Health Crisis in New York City.

The anal infection rate in young gay men is highest. Infection occurs through skin-to-skin contact — including areas not covered by condoms — and warts need not be present for transmission to occur

Most infections are transient and are cleared by the immune system. Of the 40 or so types of HPV that infect the genital and anal regions, those that cause genital warts are deemed "low-risk" whereas those linked to cancer of the cervix or anus are termed "high risk" GMHC says.

Types 16 and 18 are the most common high-risk varieties. Most HIV-negative people — and 90 percent of women — clear HPV infections within two years, but infections with types 16 and 18 seem to last longer.

"We are very encouraged by the results of this study," Noel Alicea a spokesperson for the GMHC told 365Gay.com. "We are eager to see similar clinical studies conducted specifically among people living with HIV/AIDS. In addition, we look forward to results from studies of the vaccine for use in the prevention of anal cancer in both men and women."

©365Gay.com 2005


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