#GetGarded campaign to raise awareness of HPV among gay men

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Vancouver’s Health Initiative for Men (HIM) has teamed up with the Vancouver Coastal Health and Fraser Health Authorities to launch its latest campaign #GetGarded, in an effort to raise awareness of the high rates of human papillomavirus (HPV) infection and anal cancer among men.

Linked to a variety of cancers including anal, penile and the more commonly known cervical cancer, estimates have shown that while HPV is widespread among all adults, studies have shown that 60% of gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men (MSM) have been infected. It is estimated that 80% of those are HIV-positive.In comparing these statistics to the general population, MSM are twenty times more likely to develop anal cancer. The new #GetGarded campaign is designed to raise awareness of these high rates of HPV infection and anal cancer among the MSM population.

The #GetGarded campaign encourages men to get vaccinated with Gardasil to prevent infection from HPV strains linked to genital warts and cancers. Gardasil provides protection from two cancer-causing HPV strains that are responsible for about 70% of all anal cancers. Gardasil 9, a second-generation HPV vaccine recently launched in Canada, provides protection against five additional cancer-causing HPV strains, and covers strains responsible for about 90% of anal cancer.

HPV vaccination is funded for girls and women in British Columbia, but not among boys or men, who are required to pay out-of-pocket unless they have private health insurance that covers their vaccination fees.

“The #GetGarded campaign is good news for all men, even though we’re targeting gay men with the messaging.” says Greg Oudman, Executive Director of HIM.

Oudman also says that HIM has been working with stakeholders in B.C. to extend Gardasil vaccinations to boys and men, similar to programs already in place in Alberta and Prince Edward Island.

“In the meantime, we’re encouraging men to get vaccinated, as some gay men may be covered by their health insurance plans or have the ability to pay,” he says.

You can find out more at http://getgarded.ca.

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