Forty-seven percent of HIV-positive gay men and 64 percent of HIV-negative gay men in an Irish study would benefit from the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine, aidsmap reports. Publishing their findings in HIV Medicine, researchers conducted a cross-sectional study in 194 men who have sex with men (MSM) who were recruited at GUIDE, a gay men’s health clinic at St. James’s Hospital in Dublin, and at the Gay Men’s Health Services, a community-based gay men’s health clinic, in the spring of 2012. The cohort included 99 HIV-positive men and 95 HIV-negative men.

Certain strains of HPV—there are more than 40 types—are more dangerous than others. HPV16 and HPV18 are particularly virulent, raising the risk of cancer; the HPV vaccine, Gardasil, provides protection for both of them.

Seventy-seven percent of the HIV-positive men and 61 percent of the HIV-negative men in the study were infected with at least one type of HPV. But just 47 percent of the HIV-positive men and 36 percent of the HIV-negative men were infected with either HPV16, HPV18 or both, or with HPV31, which can also cause cancer. HPV31 is not included in the vaccine, although Gardasil may offer some protection against the strain. Just 12 percent of the HIV-positive men and none of the HIV-negative men had both HPV16 and HPV18, suggesting that 88 percent and 100 percent of the respective groups might benefit at least somewhat from the HPV vaccine.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that 11- and 12-year-old boys receive the HPV vaccine and that boys who did not receive it at that age should do so up to age 21. This study suggests that adult gay men may still have reason to receive the vaccine.

To read the aidsmap story, click here.

To read the study abstract, click here.