Gardasil, a vaccine that prevents human papillomavirus (HPV) from being transmitted, was recently approved for adults between the ages of 27-45.
HPV is largely known for causing cervical cancer, and typically is only offered to those below 26.
HPV isn’t only for those with a cervix — the medication is also of great benefit to gay men, who can face a number of cancers from various strains of HPV, including cancers affecting the penis, the anus, and other parts of the body. It can also lead to genital warts.
HPV is also more dangerous for those who may be infected with HIV.
Likewise, as there are several strains of HPV, it is possible to have been infected with one earlier in life with little to no effect on your health, only to face worse effects from a different strain later in life.
Insurers don’t see as great a benefit from the vaccine for people who may have already been exposed to HPV, and have considered age 26 as a safe “cut off” when the majority of those insured would have already been exposed via sexual contact.
In spite of this, the medication can indeed benefit those older than 26: the vaccine will not treat an existing HPV infection, but it will prevent strains that haven’t infected a person from transmission.
HPV spreads during skin-to-skin contact during sexual activities when one of more partners is already infected with HPV.
HPV is the most common sexually transmitted infection (STI) in the United States. There are an estimated 24 million active cases, and 5.5 million new cases each year according to the National Cancer Institute.