Article contributed by DTAP Clinic.
For a long time, there have been no established HPV tests for men.
However, recently there has been growing evidence that the lately HPV tests can be used for screening in men.
In other words, we need to take skin or mucosal cells, crack them open, then use DNA testing methods to find the virus inside.
In other words, we can only test for HPV in very specific areas. There is no one test to test for HPV anywhere and everywhere in the body.
So if we swab the patient’s mouth and throat for HPV, it is only testing for HPV in the mouth and throat. If the same patient has HPV in the penis, the test will not pick it up.
The other very important thing to remember is thatcurrent tests for HPV only tests for Type 16, 18 and other High-Risk Types. In other words, if a patient is infected with only Low-Risk HPV Types, the test will not pick it up.
The last important thing to know is that while these tests are gaining popularity, they are still not established. HPV testing is only established for Cervix in women. In other words, there is still no official recommendation for HPV testing in any other place than the Cervix.
However, the scientific data for HPV testing in places other than the Cervix is gathering. Already HPV testing for the Anal canal is very accepted but still not officially recommended.
With these caveats in mind, let us now discuss the procedures.
1. Mouth / Throat Swab
HPV in the mouth and throat is related to oropharyngeal cancer. Remember Michael Douglas?
A brush is used to collect cells from the inner cheek and the sides at the back of the throat. The cells collected are then placed in a special fluid and sent for testing. It is a painless and easy procedure.
Some clinics advise not to brushing your teeth or using mouthwashes in the morning before the procedure. While I think this is good practice, I personally do not think it makes a big difference. This is because cells from the inner cheek and throat come off rather easily with the brush we use for collection.
2. Anal Swab
HPV in the anus is related to anal cancer. This is a high risk in HIV +ve MSM. It is lower risk as everyone else but still a concern.
You do not need to practice receptive anal sex to get HPV in the anus.
The procedure for HPV testing of the anus is also easy and painless. A tiny brush is inserted about 2cm into the anus and rotated. The cells collected are then placed in a special fluid and sent for testing.
There is, of course, no special preparation required prior to the procedure.
Anal Pap Smear
Anal Pap smear is a screening test for anal cancer and looks at the cells in the rectum to look at abnormal cells that may suggest cancer.
3. Pubic, Penile, Scrotal Swab
HPV is related to Penile Cancer. Shocking but true.
This test is probably the most straightforward and most certainly painless. A brush is used to swab the penis, pubic region and scrotum. The cells collected are then placed in a special fluid and sent for testing.
Some clinics recommend not washing the area for 3 days prior to the test. I certainly think this is good practice however, I think not washing for 1 day is good enough. This is because, within 1 day, enough skin cells would have collected for us to get a good sample.
Cost and other admin matters
Rapid HPV Testing is available at $289.00.
We charge $67.00 for consultation.
Where to swab obviously depends on the type of sexual exposure.
If you’ve only had receptive oral sex (i.e. you used your mouth on your partner’s genitals) you only need a throat and mouth swab.
If you’ve had insertive oral, anal or vaginal sex (i.e. you inserted your penis into your partner’s anus, mouth or vagina OR your pubic area came into contact with your partner’s anus, mouth or vagina even if there was no penetration per se) you need a swab of the pubic region, penis and scrotum.
If you have had receptive anal sex (i.e. your partner inserted his penis in your anus OR your partner’s penis came into contact with your anus even if there was no penetration OR your partner used hi/her mouth on your anus), you need a swab of the anal canal.
Sometimes, what we do is swab the penile, pubic region, scrotum AND anal canal with the same swab brush. This reduces cost but cannot differentiate where the HPV is if it comes back positive.
We, of course, cannot use the same swab brush for the pubic or anal region and the throat. Hygiene reasons you know.
HPV Vaccines for Men
HPV vaccines have been used in Men for several years now. In fact, some countries have made it a law that all men and boys get vaccinated for HPV.
So what to do now?
If you require HPV testing or would like to get vaccinated, come down to our clinics.
Our Doctors are Fully Certified and Trained to conduct specialised STD and HIV Testing.