Men’s emotional distress about HPV infection similar to women’s, USF public health study shows
Human papillomavirus (HPV) infection has been associated with feelings of anger, fear, guilt, embarrassment, stigma and depression among women, but few studies have examined the emotional responses among men.
A University of South Florida College of Public Health study shows that men shared many of these same negative emotional reactions as women after receiving HPV test results, but most disclosed the results to their sexual partners and reported high intentions to receive an HPV vaccine in the future.
The study, originally appearing in the American Journal of Health Behavior, was recently reported in NIH PubMed Central.
“We were able to take advantage of a larger HPV natural history study in men to assess their emotional responses to HPV infection,” said lead author Ellen Daley, PhD, associate professor of community and family health at the USF College of Public Health. “Our study found men shared may of the same concerns about HPV infection that women have expressed in previous studies.”
There is no HPV test commercially available for men. However, an HPV test using DNA extracts is approved for use in research settings – which is how the positive or negative HPV status of male study participants could be determined.
“Our findings strengthen the need for vaccinating both males and females against HPV, which is a virus that can cause certain types of cancers that can affect both genders,” Daley said.
Among the behavioral study findings:
– As expected, HPV-positive men were more likely to be upset by study results and experienced significantly higher negative emotional responses than HPV-negative men.
– HPV-negative men were significantly more likely than HPV positive men to tell a sexual partner about their test results.
– Most men, 91 percent, reported they were very likely or likely to get the HPV vaccine in the future. (Since completion of the USF study, an FDA-approved HPV vaccine for boys and young men has become available.)
– The most common barriers to HPV vaccination reported were cost (66 percent) and side effects (63 percent).
The findings will be important in helping design HPV-related prevention messages for men as well as interventions that recognize the emotional responses linked to test results, the study authors conclude.
The USF College of Public Health researchers collaborated with Moffitt Cancer Center on the study.
HPV is the most common sexually transmitted infection in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.