“The doctor has been taught to be interested not in health but in disease. What the public is taught is that health is the cure for disease.” – Ashley Montagu
Sex and gender are variables that can influence the immune response in the establishment and progression of various diseases. The common (over)generalization amongst researchers focuses on the “stronger” immune system of women, which allows for more efficient clearance of foreign pathogens but in turn increases susceptibility to autoimmune afflictions. While men do seem to have a higher prevalence of infectious disease and non-reproductive malignancies, the reality is that sex- and gender-based immune differences are far more complex. For example, men are three times as likely to develop ankylosing spondylitis, an autoimmune disorder, while socioeconomic and cultural factors can not only affect exposure to pathogen and acquisition of disease but also influence the ability and willingness to receive medical attention. While sex-based research is garnering attention with funding agencies promoting priority groups, emphasis also needs to be put on the social customs and infrastructure in place to improve the inequalities in health care delivery and services.
In this issue of IMMpress Magazine, we explore how the interplay of biology and the social environment affects men’s health. We address sex-based differences in cancer immunity and treatment efficacy , as well as provide an update on the recent advances in prostate cancer research and biomarker discovery. Shifting gears, we evaluate Canada’s regulations on blood donations from men who have sex with men, and examine the recent decision by the Ontario government to extend the publicly-funded free human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccination program to all boys in the province. Lastly, we look at the clustering of socioeconomic adversity and HIV in gay and bisexual men through the lens of syndemic theory and health.
As we enter 2017, we would like to wish all of our readers a prosperous and productive New Year. This magazine is the collective effort of many writers, editors, and designers, without whom we would not be able to accomplish half as much—many heartfelt thanks to our entire team for all of their dedication! There will be more IMMpress-ive articles ahead, and we look forward to your continued readership in the coming year.