Human papillomavirus (HPV) causes 6.2 million infections in the United States each year, making it the most common sexually transmitted infection. Persistent infection with HPV can lead to genital warts and cancers of the cervix, penis, anus, vagina, and vulva. Approximately 7,000 HPV type 16– and 18–associated cancers occur in males each year, including anal, oropharyngeal, and penile cancers.1
In addition, an estimated 250,000 cases of genital warts caused by HPV types 6 and 11 occur in males per year in the United States. The quadrivalent HPV vaccine (HPV4; Gardasil—Merck & Co., Inc.) is highly effective in preventing genital warts in males and has recently demonstrated efficacy in the preventing grade 2 or 3 anal intraepithelial neoplasia (AIN2/3), which are precursors of anal cancer.2
Until recently, vaccination efforts for HPV have focused on routine immunization of females, although the incidence of HPV infection is similar for males and females.2
Routine immunization of males will result in fewer HPV infections and related cancers. This article provides a summary of the current literature supporting the use of HPV4 in males and recommendations regarding the use of HPV vaccines in general.