In a small study involving HIV-negative gay men, the HPV vaccine Gardasil was shown to reduce the risk of anal cancer.
The vaccine reduced the risk of lesion recurrence by approximately 50% in the first two years after immunisation. There was some evidence that the protective effects of the vaccine waned after this point. “This is the first study to demonstrate an association between Gardasil after primary disease and decreased risk of recurrent HGAIN [high-grade intraepithelial neoplasia],” comment the investigators, who believe the vaccine may be “an effective post-treatment adjuvant to prevent recurrent HGAIN.” High-risk strains of human papilloma virus are the main cause of anal and cervical cancer. The quadrivalent human papilloma virus vaccine (Gardasil) is highly effective at preventing infection with these strains. Rates of anal cancer are elevated in gay and other men who have sex with men.
As I overshared on Facebook at the time, last month my new doctor surprised me with an anal pap smear, something his practice does routinely for all gay men over 40. My result was thankfully negative, but I mention it here to reinforce how simple and brief the procedure is. Ask for it, regardless of your age. (Tipped by JMG reader Bill)