From Dr. Mark Bornstein and Dr. Paul Benson
I thought I had hemorrhoids for the last few years. A friend saw these and said they are warts and can turn into cancer. Is that true? Is there anything to do to treat these? Is there anything available to prevent them?
This is a great question and a topic that all folks who are having any type of sex should understand. Anal warts are caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV). This a virus that is sexually transmitted and essentially, all folks who are sexually active have come into contact with this virus at one point or another. There are many strains of HPV, some of which can cause anal, cervical, or oral cancer. Other strains of HPV only cause warts. It is important to know that the strain of HPV that causes warts does not cause cancer.
When an individual comes into contact with the virus, some people’s immune systems will be able to fight off this virus itself and others need treatment. Specifically for warts, one may even see that they go away on their own without treatment, however, typically we treat these with by freezing them off (cryotherapy) or a topical cream. Sometimes an individual may need multiple cryotherapy treatments for the warts to go away. This is normal!
For prevention, we recommend getting vaccinated! There is a 3 dose vaccination series that is now available for folks up to 45 years old, regardless of gender. It is also important to vaccinate children when they become eligible at 9 years old.
Remember, if you see anal warts, please do not fear. Warts are extremely common and are something medical providers treat on a daily basis. We encourage you to continue to have open conversations with your partner/s regarding sex and sexual health!
I’ve been hearing more and more in the media about Monkeypox and that the World Health Organization has declared it a global health emergency. Can you comment on this? I’m a gay man and have been told that this is a gay disease. When can I get vaccinated? Thanks. – John C
Monkey pox, first recognized in the 1970’s, has been confined until just recently to Central Africa. It escaped Africa and has been identified in over 66 countries totaling about 6,000 cases. Until now, there has been no real data to suggest it’s a gay disease. With that said it seems that the majority of cases outside of Africa has been in men having sex with men. One possibility to explain this is a gay man, or group of men, contracted Monkeypox while in Africa. They might have brought it back to their home countries and then spread it to others. Monkeypox is transmitted through close contact with an infected individual, including sex. That could explain why we are seeing this phenomenon in gay men. I expect it will crossover non-gay individuals too in a matter of time.
Monkeypox is not fatal. It has been classified as a global emergency by the WHO. Symptoms include flu like illness and a characteristic rash. The vaccine to combat it is in short supply. We are stretching that supply by using one dose instead of two for the time being. One dose, instead of two has been shown to be effective in protecting against Monkeypox, at least for the short term. Because of this vaccine shortage, the only people able to get the vaccine at this time, are those who have had contact to a person confirmed as having Monkeypox. With the limited supply of vaccine, we have to be very smart in vaccinating the people most at risk. This includes those who are immunosuppressed and/or having multiple sexual contacts. The good thing is that we will be able to vaccinate ourselves out of this epidemic with vaccinations once we have a sufficient supply. Hopefully that will be by the end of this year.The best thing you can do right now is use your common sense. If you are not feeling well, or have a rash, you should avoid intimacy until the symptoms reside. There is also a therapeutic medication Tecovirimat, in short supply, that is currently being reserved for treating severe cases. Tecovirimat is only available from select medical providers.
We have learned a lesson from history. With HIV, first recognized in the 1980’s, no one was talking about it, including the media. Today, with Monkeypox, we are getting ahead of it early and ramping up production of effective vaccines and therapeutics. David Coulter, Executive Director of Oakland County, has created a Monkeypox task force to keep the public educated as well as develop the best guidelines possible for treatment and prevention of Monkeypox. His announcement of the task force, as well as other important information, can be found at https://fb.watch/eqVMFDAC38/ .
Since 1980 Dr. Paul Benson’s Be Well Medical Center has been an inclusive medical center celebrating diversity. Do you have a health related question for Dr. Paul Benson and Dr. Mark Bornstein? Submit your questions to [email protected]. This article is a sponsored editorial produced in collaboration with Be Well Medical Center. Between The Lines’s journalism is made possible with the support and partnership of advertisers like Be Well. Learn more about Be Well here.