We know that human papilllomavirus (HPV) is bad for us ladies, as it can lead to cervical cancer. And given the statistic that an estimated 80% of us will have HPV by the time we're 50, it's a good thing that the HPV vaccine Gardasil is now available for those of us who meet its age requirements (9 - 26). But what about the boys? Did you know that certain strains of HPV cause anal cancer? It's rare (1% of sexually-active men are diagnosed yearly), but rates are 35 times higher in gay and bisexual men. It turns out that resident Jezegay Ryan Creed—the Ann Coulter fan and Vulva fragrance pusher—is a guinea pig in a study right now testing Gardasil on men. Luckily for us, he lived to tell us all about it.
After my turn-and-cough physical in January, my doctor asked me if I wanted to join an unspecified clinical study. I agreed because I was studying to be a nurse and wanted to do my part for the medical field. I also was convinced that the study was for depression medication. He started to ask me revealing questions about my sex life, which should have indicated to me what the study was about—yes I am gay, yes I have had less than six sexual partners, and yes I not happy about that—but I still assumed it was for depression medication.
"Do you ever have warts?"
"Well, lately I've been getting these warts on my thumbs and they keep disap....wait a second...you're talking about genital warts, aren't you?"
He shook his head and told me that the study was for a trial run of Gardasil, Merck's vaccine. It has already been approved by the F.D.A for use in women, but the company is now studying it's efficacy in men and in particular gay men. The study is comprised of 4,000 men between the ages of 16 and 26, 500 of whom are sexually active with men (My doctor said it was difficult to find gay men for the study who have had no more than five sexual partners, indirectly confirming that gay men are complete sluts). The vaccine is being used to both prevent transmission between partners and to lower the risk of anal cancer caused by certain strains of HPV.
I set up an appointment for the vaccine the following week at the gay health center, which gave me few days to mentally prepare myself to be anally pap-ed and/or fingered by my doctor. Yes, I know doctors regularly stick things all up in you ladies, but I've never had a doctor do anything more to "my area" than the routine testicular exam and I was a little nervous about the impending fingering. My doctor was going to finger me, probably with a lot of lube, and I just needed to accept that reality.
It's a blind test study with half the men receiving a placebo and the other half receiving Gardasil. There are about 40 strains of HPV. Gardasil protects against types 6, 11, 16, and 18. HPV Types 16 and 18 cause most cervical and anal cancer cases, and HPV Types 6 and 11 cause 90% of genital warts cases. What they don't normally tell you is that infection occurs through skin-to-skin contact and warts don't need to be present for transmission between partners. To get skin samples, my doctor pulled out what looked like a metal nail file, and he rubbed it across my hand to show me that it would be "painless." Sure, it didn't hurt per se, but I would have taken pain over the stinging tickle of three metal nail files scrapped across my Jezepenis's head, shaft and the sensitive area between the two.
Then came the fingering and swabbing. My doctor took an extra long swab, inserted it much further in me than I thought necessary, and made the motion of rolling up a car window really fast. He did that one or two more times and then he asked me to put my pants back on and get my shot. I went back to the waiting room, scheduled my next injection appointment—I was to receive 2 more additional shots and then follow-up appointments for the next 3 years—and was paid $75 in cash. That's right, cash, just like your run of the mill, back alley tranny-hooker.
After the vaccination I felt dirty, exploited, and lube-y. But the silver lining to the study wasn't the money or possibly receiving an effective vaccine, it was finding out that I am one of the few gay men not infected with the high-risk strains of HPV. One study found that over 65% of HIV-negative gay men have HPV, and being in the minority made me feel special. And as luck would have it, I had a date shortly after my dick-scrapping-anal-swabbing session with someone who was also in the Gardasil trial and who had his dick scrapped. OMG, we had so much in common. And I know this will be hard to believe, but as far as hook-up dirty talk goes, "We totally don't have HPV" is pretty hot.