Elizabeth Renstrom for TIME
By Alexandra Sifferlin
January 23, 2017
TIME Health
For more, visit TIME Health.

The vast majority of men who are eligible to get vaccinated against the human papillomavirus (HPV) do not, despite the fact that most men will get infected in their lifetimes, a new study shows.

Nearly all sexually active men and women in the U.S. get the HPV virus at some point during their lives, making it the most common sexually transmitted infection in the country. But men, especially, have been slow get the vaccine. A recent study published in the journal JAMA Oncology reveals that in a national survey of 1,868 men from ages 18 to 59, only 10.7% were vaccinated against HPV. The study also found that the prevalence of genital HPV among these men was just over 45%.

Typically HPV will go away on its own and will not cause any health issues. Most men and women clear the virus naturally six to 18 months after getting infected. In some cases, however, the virus can cause problems like genital warts or certain cancers, like cervical, vagina, penis or throat cancer.

Health authorities recommend all children ages 11 or 12 get two shots of the HPV vaccine, and the findings of the current study suggest the importance of early vaccination. Men ages 18 to 22 had an HPV prevalence close to 29%, and men ages 23 to 27 had an HPV prevalence of 46.5%.

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