The great undiscussable: Anal cancer, HPV, and gay men's health

Steven G Epstein*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

19 Scopus citations


In the United States, the ubiquitous direct-to-consumer advertising by the pharmaceutical company Merck has offered a public face for the vaccine Gardasil: young, active, multiethnic, well-informed, self-assertive, and-needless to say-female. After all, the vaccine is marketed and conventionally understood as a vaccine against cervical cancer. But recently, to a very limited extent, a new set of social actors has emerged to demand attention to their human papillomavirus-related illnesses. Advocates for gay men's health, including a small group of medical researchers and practitioners, have joined the public discussion about Gardasil as part of an attempt to highlight the threat of anal cancer, a little-known disease that is causally linked to HPV. These advocates seek to incorporate Gardasil within a larger regimen of prevention and treatment that, they argue, should include the routine screening of men who have sex with men (MSM), by means of anal Pap smears.1 Thus, in order for the promise of medicine to reach this constituency, a largely invisible disease must be brought into the open, and medical technologies that have been associated with women's bodies must be recoded as usable in men.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationThree Shots at Prevention
Subtitle of host publicationThe HPV Vaccine and the Politics of Medicine's Simple Solutions
PublisherThe Johns Hopkins University Press
Number of pages30
ISBN (Print)0801896711, 9780801896729
StatePublished - Dec 1 2010

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Sciences(all)

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'The great undiscussable: Anal cancer, HPV, and gay men's health'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this