Anal Cancer Risks for Gay Men

October 21, 2005

To the Editor:

It’s wonderful that Gay City News prominently featured a story on anal cancer and gay men (“Gay Men’s Anal Cancer Risk,” by Lawrence D. Mass, M.D., Oct. 20-26). It’s sad and disturbing the article was so full of misinformation which might lead many men to think they don’t need to be tested.

Facts: 1) HPV has many different varieties and only two “may” lead to anal cancer; 2) You can get HPV even if you have not had unprotected sex as a bottom or if you’ve never bottomed at all, the virus can be spread by fingers, toys and just teasing the anus with the head of the penis; and 3) an anal pap smear is done with a dry cotton swab inserted into a dry anus (so it has to be done before the doctor lubes up his finger to examine your prostate).

However, your article did get something right. We have to take control of our own health care. Even though my health care provider at the time was in a large gay/HIV-positive-friendly practice, I had to ask for a rectal exam. (I had not had a physical since my teens and wanted everything done!) Only then did my provider discover warts in my anal canal. I was referred to Dr. Stephen Goldstone who diagnosed me as having the non-cancer-causing type of HPV and after two laser treatments the warts have not reappeared in five years, as determined by yearly anal pap smears.

So a word to the wise, ask questions, it’s your body.

David S. Bimbi


October 26, 2005

To the Editor:

How thankful I was to read the article by Lawrence D. Mass, M.D., about anorectal HPV-human papillomavirus! I’ve been providing healthcare for LGBT people for over 20 years. I find consumer knowledge about our particular health concerns is sadly lacking. This article was strong to encourage gay men to learn and be alert about their risk for genital warts and anorectal cancers.

I practice with Stephen E. Goldstone, M.D., whom Dr. Mass quotes in his article. Together we screen, treat. and research various facets of anorectal HPV. There are a few important details in this story that need correction.

Condoms do not fully prevent the transmission of HPV. Therefore, whether you have had unprotected anal sex or not, you can catch it. Skin to skin transmission of the virus occurs so it’s also spread by rubbing, during foreplay, from fingers and toys. Research shows that 50 to 90 percent of men who have sex with men carry this virus. So, any anal sex, protected or not, is a reason to be screened with a PAP smear.

It is important that a Dacron swab is used to properly obtain the cells and get them into the solution. A cotton swab will not be effective to rub off and release cells into the PAP smear media.

The HPV Prevention Vaccine you mention will likely be approved in 2006 but ONLY for women. The manufacturer of the vaccine will seek approval from the Food and Drug Administration late this year.

Research studies of this HPV Prevention Vaccine for men are currently enrolling. But very few young gay men have called about this study all across the country. It’s important we find out if this vaccine works in men.

Dr. Goldstone and I are conducting the study with young men who have sex with men. We seek men from the ages of 16-26 that have begun having anal sex. We conduct the trial in our small practice in Chelsea. We are both out, gay clinicians and make a comfortable place in which to participate in a clinical trial that could be vital to gay men’s health. Clinicians and consumers may call me at 212-242-6500 for information about the study, how to get a PAP smear, or how to perform one.

Jeff W. Huyett, APRN, BC

Nurse Practitioner/Study Coordinator/ Sub-investigator

Dr. Mass replies: Since HPV can be spread by fingers and sex toys, any sexually active gay man, or any gay man with a history of being sexually active, is at some risk for HPV infection of the anal mucosa, though the principal risk would seem to be with those who’ve had anal intercourse, and the highest risk with those who’ve had unprotected anal intercourse. Clearly, there is agreement on the importance of anal pap smear testing. I’m glad that the seriousness and globalism of the risk are being differentiated by those medical professionals with the most expertise.

According to Callen-Lorde Community Health Center medical director Dr. Gal Mayer, that facility has screened approximately 400 patients for anal cancer, most of them HIV-positive men. Although the clinic has so far diagnosed only one case of anal cancer, approximately 30 percent have anal dysplasia. Although there hasn’t yet been time for longitudinal studies to document linear progression from dysplasia to cancer, the risk seems clear and many of these cases are being successfully treated with the newer techniques Dr. Goldstone has discussed that result in minimal or negligible pain and infection. Dr. Mayer said that if he had anal dysplasia on an anal pap smear, he would “definitely” get treated.

Free speech and provocation

October 17, 2005

To the Editor:

Hi there, my name is Christopher X. Brodeur and it’s my job to expose hypocrisy and dishonestly in govt and media, and since you let Andy Humm print a bunch of bold lies about me, I hope you’ll allow the other side of the story (“Police Allow Provocateur to Disrupt Ferrer Rally,” Oct. 13-19). I am a very polite person, and I did NOT hinder Freddy’s or anyone’s message on the steps of City Hall during Ferrer’s hyper-ironic gay endorsements photo op. The photo you printed, alone, contradicts Andy’s account (as does the video we have, in case you doubt

my veracity). I held up my sign SILENTLY on the steps prior to Freddy’s press conference, and during it, and I listened to every speaker and didn’t interrupt, except when Deborah Glick insulted me with a Cheney smear special. The video even shows me RAISING MY HAND to ask Freddy a question during the Q & A.

Freddy’s supporters, by sharp contrast, repeatedly were caught on video blocking my peaceful, silent protest sign with… rainbow flags (to demonstrate their love of inclusiveness, I’m guessing).

I was standing on public property silently exercising my free speech rights when Freddy, Andy and gang repeatedly threatened me and used the most childish insults I’ve heard in a long time.

Christopher X. Brodeur

Write-in Democrat for mayor

Andy Humm replies: We would all love to get away with standing right next to the people we’re protesting, silently or otherwise. I don’t blame Brodeur for trying. The article was about how Bloomberg’s police department allowed Brodeur’s disruption of Ferrer’s gay rally in dereliction of its duty. Free speech means nothing if we are not allowed to deliver our messages without intimidation. Brodeur was entitled to protest, but not right within the Ferrer rally. I’ve organized scores of demonstrations and our groups do not have to abide the presence of those who oppose our message in our picket line. Opposing groups should be separated by the police if necessary. Brodeur’s disrespect for free speech rights is appalling.


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