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Viral Marketing: What’s Stopping Men From Getting the HPV Vaccine

There’s no way to tell if you, or your partner, lost the genetic lottery. So get the vaccine and tell your friends to do the same.


In early 2011, my doctor informed me that a vaccine to protect against the human papillomavirus—HPV—was now available for men. I was relieved, then frustrated—my doctor didn’t actually offer the principal vaccine, Gardasil, to her male patients. After a couple days of hunting around town, I finally found the vaccine at the Mazzoni Center, a LGBT health clinic in downtown Philly. I received all three shots, and joined the less than 1 percent of American men who are vaccinated against the most dangerous strains of the virus.

While I was exceedingly grateful to the Mazzoni Center inoculating me, I knew of only one other male friend who’d received his shots. So since I got my shots, I’ve made a point of discussing my experience with any friend, acquaintance, or bemused bystander who will listen. And I’ve learned two things about young, straight men and HPV: We all know it exists, and not much else.

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