Young Men and HPV

Can young men get HPV too?

Yes. Young men are at risk. In fact, every person, man or woman, who has sex, is at risk. Most HPV infections occur in people aged 15 to 24. The earlier you become sexually active, the greater your risk of HPV infection. HPV affects people of all races. People who are part of same-sex relationships can get HPV. Anyone having oral sex can get HPV.

How does HPV affect young men?

The most common sign of HPV in young men is genital warts. In fact, genital warts seem to affect as many young men as young women. Some very rare cancers in young men are also linked to HPV. Up to 90% of anal cancers (more common among men who have sex with men), 40 to 50% of cancers of the penis, and 10 to 20% of cancers of the mouth, head, and neck are caused by HPV infection. These cancers do not usually develop until later in life.

Are genital warts a sign of HPV?

Genital warts are often the only sign that someone has an HPV infection. In fact, it is the most common sign of HPV in young men.  There may be one or many warts that you can see and feel on the penis, scrotum, anus or thighs. They may look like small cauliflower. Some warts are not visible because they grow inside the anus. Although the warts are unsightly, most of them are painless. Sometimes, they cause burning or itching.  Some studies have shown that 2 out of 3 people who have sexual contact with a person who has genital warts will become infected.

Can genital warts be treated?

Yes, genital warts can be treated. In some cases, warts are treated at home with medicine and in others at a clinic, with medicine, freezing or surgery. But no treatment can destroy the virus. When the warts are gone, it doesn’t mean that the HPV is gone. In 1 out of every 4 cases, the warts will return within 3 months.

Once the HPV virus enters your body, it remains there. Sometimes it is latent. This means you don’t see or feel any signs of the virus. It may reveal itself at any time, for example, in the form of warts. 

Is HPV testing available for young men?

There is currently no test available to diagnose young men with the HPV infection.

How can young men prevent HPV?

The only guaranteed way to prevent any type of HPV infection is to abstain from sex. This means no vaginal or anal intercourse, no skin-to-skin contact in the genital area, no sharing of sex toys, and no oral sex.

Is HPV vaccination available for young men?

Young men can be infected with HPV. In 2010, Health Canada approved HPV vaccination for young men ages 9 to 26 .

What can I do to reduce my risk of getting HPV?

There are a number of ways to reduce the risk of getting an HPV infection. Do what you can because only you can protect yourself!

  • Practice abstinence (no below-the-belt sexual activity).
  • Have sex with only one partner.
  • Always use a condom. (Remember: Condoms do not fully protect you from HPV because they do not cover all areas of the skin that may be infected by the virus.)
  • Quit smoking. (Smoking makes the body less able to fight off HPV infection and is a factor in the development of various cancers.)

Do I need to worry about HPV if my girlfriend has had the HPV vaccination?

If your girlfriend has been vaccinated, she is more likely to be free of the HPV types prevented by the vaccine (types 6, 11, 16, 18). These cause most genital warts and cancers of the cervix. But this does not mean you are fully protected from HPV infections. She can still carry other types of the HPV virus. If your girlfriend was sexually active before she was vaccinated, she may have one of the types preventable by the vaccine. Vaccination can only prevent, not cure or treat an HPV infection.

In 2010, Health Canada approved HPV vaccination for young men aged 9 to 26. So, you can now further protect yourself by getting vaccinated.

As well, there is still a need to practice safe sex, as your partner can also have other STIs.

HPV Information Fact Sheets


Most people who have sexual contact with a partner infected by genital warts can develop warts fairly quickly, within three months of contact.