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Threatened lawsuit over HPV transmission
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Threatened lawsuit over HPV transmission

I met a man in July '08, we became engaged in November '08 and I broke off the engagement in July '09.  At some point in the course of our relationship, the topic of HPV came up in a conversation and I told him I had tested positive for HPV at my last gynecological exam (late June '08; PAP was negative, though).  This was at a time after we were engaged and had already had unprotected sex.  He seemed outraged that I hadn't told him this before we had sex for the first time.  Given what I know about HPV (i.e., there are many strains, it can lay dormant in your body for years, etc.), I didn't feel it was my obligation to tell him; in fact, it didn't cross my mind at all.  

Now, 9 months after I broke off our engagement (13 months since we had sexual activity of any kind), he is threatening (in a text message, no less) a lawsuit, presumably over the idea that I infected him with HPV.  The text message is all I have to go on...in the message he asserts that I'll be served with papers shortly and that I should have a good attorney.  Relevant to this issue is the fact that he willingly continued to have unprotected sex with me after I told him I tested positive and that both my PAP and HPV tests were negative at my annual exam in July '09.

I'd appreciate any information from the medical community that may be helpful in my situation.

Thanks

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Avatar_m_tn
It might have been nice to tell him beforehand, especially since there are effective vaccines that may be available (BTW, HPV doesn't usually lie dormant for years, often it just clears up without causing any disease, after which you become immune to the same strain), but I sincerely doubt any court will entertain such a request from his part.

1. Does he actually have medical proof that he has been infected with HPV?

2. Would he have any proof that the infection necessarily came from you?

3. Does he have proof that he still has the infection, or that it has already caused him irreparable harm (cancer, warts etc)?

BTW, if you never told him the strain you tested positive for, make sure that remains absolutely private — don't tell anyone any details or hints regarding whether the strain was high- or low- risk.  If he tells you he's suing you for HPV 16, and you have had some other strain, then he's obviously bluffing.  If he doesn't even know the strain he has, then I doubt he did much more about the case than sending you a text message.

C.
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Avatar_m_tn
It might have been nice to tell him beforehand, especially since there are effective vaccines that may be available (BTW, HPV doesn't usually lie dormant for years, often it just clears up without causing any disease, after which you become immune to the same strain), but I sincerely doubt any court will entertain such a request from his part.

1. Does he actually have medical proof that he has been infected with HPV?

2. Would he have any proof that the infection necessarily came from you?

3. Does he have proof that he still has the infection, or that it has already caused him irreparable harm (cancer, warts etc)?

BTW, if you never told him the strain you tested positive for, make sure that remains absolutely private — don't tell anyone any details or hints regarding whether the strain was high- or low- risk.  If he tells you he's suing you for HPV 16, and you have had some other strain, then he's obviously bluffing.  If he doesn't even know the strain he has, then I doubt he did much more about the case than sending you a text message.

C.
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Avatar_f_tn
C,

Thank you very much for your response and the tip about keeping the strain I tested positive for private.  In retrospect, yes, I should have told him.  Like I said, it really didn't even enter my mind to tell him, particularly when my doctor was so nonchalant about it.

I don't know the answers to any of the questions you've posed but they are certainly ones that have entered my mind also.  Only time will tell, I suppose....in the meantime, I'll worry and fret a little and be looking around every corner for someone to "serve me papers!"

Thanks again,
H
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Avatar_m_tn
H,

I'm glad to be of some help.  Indeed, few (if any) doctors will tell you that you necessarily have to share your HPV test results with the partner.

You don't have to know the answers to those questions, but those and similar questions are something that one would most certainly have to prove beyond a reasonable doubt in order to win the case.  As you realise, the likelihood that there'd be some proof is cloudy.  You're innocent until proven guilty. :-)

C.
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Avatar_n_tn
Hpv is so common and nearly all get it. 80 percent according to ashastd.org. You have nothing to worry about plus he would have to have a genital wart to even have medical proof but even still who's to say he did t get that from a girl before you.  Don't worry about it. He isn't educated on the subject.  
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Even if he gets hpv and warts; he could not prove beyond a reasonable doubt that it was you who infected him with. It could have been any girl he slept with in the past. Not one doctor or any credible piece of evidence can support the claim that is was necessarily you. Consider his lawsuit bogus.

Additionally, even if this could be proven, no court would fancy this lawsuit. Sex is an at your own risk activity. He knew the risks, he took them, the repercussions are his own.

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Avatar_f_tn
The problem with HPV is that even the CDC is so nonchalant about it as are health care professionals. I am finding myself in a similar situation as the original poster. They say that HPV "goes away on its own" and that most people have it and "clear" it, but they put VERY LITTLE emphasis on the worst case scenarios, the drastic consequences. I am living with myself having put many people in danger for thinking this was no big deal and everyone gets this. Not only do I experience extreme guilt, but I am also FEARFUL for the safety of others I don't even know the identities of yet whose lives my nonchalant attitude endangered. I can't just focus on my own health like innocent sick people and the fact that this may progress to cancer and the fact that I am being watched by my GYN. I also have to take responsibility for others. I'm sick but not innocent!

Well over a year after I believe I was infected, I got involved with a very nice man who didn't like condoms. And he got tested for all STDs and was free. What I knew about HPV was that within a year 90% of people clear the virus. This was over a year, so I didn't give thought to HPV. I was confident I cleared it. I did all I could to clear it. It was all behind me, or so I thought. The guy breaks up with me, and all I am worried about is my broken heart.

I truly believed I was out of the dark, that I was safe, even that this was so common it was no big deal. You clear it in 8 months to a year. Right? Everybody gets it. Right? Wrong. THIS IS A BIG DEAL. I'VE READ TOO MANY STORIES ABOUT WOMEN WHO DIDN'T GET THEIR PAPS AND THE DRASTIC CONSEQUENCES. ONE WOMAN IS ONE TOO MANY.

I AM FULLY RESPONSIBLE FOR MY ACTIONS, AND ALL I CAN DO IS PRAY THAT NOBODY ELSE IS HARMED BUT I'M AFRAID THAT WILL BE INEVITABLE AND FOR THAT REASON I CAN'T LIVE WITH MYSELF.

WHAT THEY SHOULD REALLY BE EMPHASIZING TO PEOPLE IS THAT THEY SHOULD NOT BE HAVING SEX AT ALL WITH ANYONE WHEN THEY HAVE HPV, EVEN WITH A CONDOM. CONDOMS DO NOT PROTECT YOU FROM HPV LIKE THEY DO OTHER STDs.
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Avatar_f_tn
I think you need to relax because you appear very upset. Yes, everyone should wear condoms. You say that you are being "watched" by your GYN, does that mean you had another abnormal pap? Or was the original pap a minor abnormality and is she just "watching" you because you tested positive in the past. Did you have a biopsy that indicated anything? The reason that most health organizations are nonchalant is they know that most HPV infections clear. They use the HPV test as a tool to check, not as a diagnosis for cancer. The HPV test also has false positives. Personally, I don’t like the HPV test. You need to understand that cervical cancer is very, very rare. HPV does not cause cervical cancer. A persistent HPV infection, one that lasts several years with the same HPV strain and additional factors that are still “unknown” but probably genetic or environmental may in rare cases cause cervical cancer in women in their late 40’s; usually in women that have never had a pap or not had one in more than 5 years. At present, there is insufficient evidence to balance the benefits and harms of the HPV test. The HPV test is only used in about 50% of physician’s offices. It appears in some women it is harmful because the anxiety is great and you seem to have suffered due to this test. You are not the only one; many women experience the same thing. Furthermore, no women in the US should ever get cervical cancer, there are minor procedures that can be done for “pre cancer” that are effective and curative. Lastly, you seem to think that you may be the cause to infecting others—not true. Why do you even think that your past partner has HPV? Contact does not mean infection; even without condoms it is entirely possible that he does not have HPV.
I’m not sure if your physician is explaining this well to you but maybe it might be a good idea to get a second opinion or consult from someone else. I would stop worrying about others and just focus on your own health with a good diet, exercise and no smoking.

Today, the United States Preventative Task Force came out with new recommendations that Pap testing should be done only every 3 years from 21 to 65. Screening more often adds little benefit to finding cancers but increases the harm in women with more testing.
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Avatar_f_tn
Hollyv, I told my ex about my positive test from over a year ago and explained that I thought I was clear but came back positive again. The result? He blocked me on Facebook and said it was my responsibility to have gotten retested before we had unprotected sex, that although uncommon I put him at risk for warts and cancer. I apologized profusely, but it was of no use. I will not have sex at all now.
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Avatar_n_tn
that's your own fault scaredone529. You said "you thought you was clear", but that was just your assumption. Obviously you need a negative pap smear test before you knew you were clear.

And you are wrong too  regarding 90% of people clear up HPV within 8months-12 months...

the correct estimation is 70% of people clear up HPV within 12 months and 90% of people clear up HPV within 24months. So there was a 30% chance you failed to clear up your HPV within the first 12 months and it looked like this 30% chance won.

There are only 2 SURE WAYS to know if you have cleared your HPV infection:

1. If you had positive pap smear test, you NEED to get another pap smear test until it turned back to normal

2. If you had genital warts, make sure you wait until 6-8 months no recurrence AFTER the last genital wart outbreak

Keep in mind you are part of the 30% (part of those who failed to clear up the HPV within the first year) and 30% isn't a small number
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Avatar_f_tn
Scaredone529
I’m having a little trouble understanding what tests you had done and what your risk is. Did you have a mildly abnormal Pap and do you know what the actual Pap result was? Did you have an HPV test and do you know which one and what the result was. And how old are you?
Did you have a colposcopy and were any biopsies done?

Just because a Pap or HPV test is positive, does not always mean HPV. These are imperfect tests but the positive ones are usually followed up on with a colposcopy and biopsy. Paps can also be positive due to inflammation and lab error. Actually over 40% of Paps tests are false positive. (4-5 million in the US every year)

If you had an abnormal Pap or positive HPV test that is for high risk HPV and not low risk HPV so with this result you would not get genital warts nor either would your past boyfriend. Cervical cancer is rare, rare in the US but penile cancer is even rarer. The chance that you passed anything to your boyfriend is almost zero. Your boyfriend is being pretty insensitive and maybe he needs to learn more about HPV or also take the responsibility as well to use condoms. And as I said in my past post; contact does not mean infection.

LighteningF—your answer was a little harsh. She is already upset and HPV for many is confusing to understand. And the fact is that just about every person that is sexually active will get HPV at some point—most will have infections that they never know about and some will have mild infections that clear. First high risk HPV rarely causes cervical cancer in the developed countries and does not cause genital warts. Penile cancer is really rare. And high risk HPV usually clears 4 menstrual cycles later in women.
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Avatar_f_tn
I made a mistake, and I feel horrible about it. I've accepted responsibility. This is a big deal not to be taken lightly.

I had a normal pap but pos HPV and then pos HPV, sent for colposcopy and was normal for colp. I'm in my 30s.
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Avatar_f_tn
I actually don’t think you made a mistake. I also think you feel guilty for something that has not been entirely explained well to you. Having a sexual relationship with a person that you are involved with is not a mistake. And if you can ever make your ex boyfriend listen, he has virtually no risk in the scenario that you present.

A normal Pap means normal. The HPV test is making the HPV test company and your Dr. and the lab money—from the additional tests and the colposcopy. The HPV test is not a 100% reliable and it does not even tell you the strain of HPV and it cross reacts with other HPV. The only HPV test that is 100% reliable is the HPV PCR DNA test that is not available in the US. PCR testing is the same type of testing that is used by the courts and you get a 99.9% result. You did not even have an ASCUS Pap which would be mildly abnormal which means Atypical Cells of Undetermined Significance which is a Pap result that they just aren’t sure if it is normal or not. You also did not have a Pap that was LSIL which means Low Squamous Intraepithelial Lesion—this Pap result usually 80% of the time means HPV. Because 80% of these results are HPV so LSIL is presumed to be HPV even though it is not always. This Pap usually is normal 6-12 months later. But your Pap was NORMAL.
Then you had a colposcopy that was NORMAL, if you had HPV they would have found it on biopsy. They found no dysplasia with colpsocopy and you did not say if you had a biopsy but I presume you did if you did not then there really was nothing there.

The problem is the testing—not you. The problem is believing the initial results and not the final results. The reason for the Pap is to look for abnormal cells or cervical cancer and then they added the HPV test thinking it would give more accuracy however it tends to be positive in cervical dysplasia—not always but in higher levels of cervical dysplasia (CIN 2-3) it is often positive. They occasionally find dysplasia with ASCUS, very occasionally. But with a normal Pap, there is more of a chance that the HPV test was false positive and they are just checking to make sure. Realize the HPV is just a tool to test, not always accurate. If you want to know the truth, they actually don’t know what to do with cases such as yours, so they proceed to colposcopy just in case. Not sure why you tested positive twice but it also could be the way the lab calibrates their results.
So your results are:
Pap Normal
HPV Test Positive
Pap Normal (maybe not sure if you just had an HPV test or had a Pap too.
HPV Test Positive
Colposcopy Normal.
The tissue results don’t lie.
Your Dr. needs to explain to you that there is no evidence of HPV and if he/she cannot then maybe it is time for a second opinion. This is precisely the reason that they changed Pap testing to every 2-3 years because the more tests that you have done the greater chance you have of a false positive. In 2007 Harvard did a study that said that 95% of the colposcopies in the US were unnecessary. All the HPV test did was cause you anxiety and make money for the physician and the lab. The big deal in this situation is this was not explained well to you.
You have virtually no risk of this proceeding to anything. I would doubt that you ever had HPV.
Remember tests are tools for diagnosis, the gold standard would be the colposcopy--which was normal.
I’m sorry you had to go through this.
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Avatar_f_tn
Thank you for not judging me despite my messing up, Holly. The mistake on my part was not getting tested before we had unprotected sex. I can't explain this to my ex. This wasn't fair to him at all. Not fair to him and not fair to his future gfs. I already tried to say I made a mistake and felt bad. (His anger with me is understandable.) Maybe one day I will find out I had a false positive all along. They found mild dysplasia the second time and then normal colposcopy which makes no sense. Holly, you seem to know a lot about this. Are you in the health profession?

The problem is I kept thinking that all these married women who've been with their husbands for 30 years who are testing positive so "no big deal." And then that it's so common and "everyone has it." So it didn't even cross my mind until after I had slept with him and was in the GYN office. That's when I said I was sure I cleared it because I felt enough time passed. I wasn't sexually active in a while. I heard a majority of people who didn't have any symptoms did clear it in that time. She asked if I was a smoker and I said no.  

It IS a big deal. However small the risk, it's still there!!! And I have it on my conscience. When I got my 2nd positive AFTER I was with this new guy who so justifiably is mad at me, that's when I began all this reading and I was so upset that I hadn't thought about my previous test.

LightningF, you're preaching to the choir. I feel horrible about my mistake.
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Avatar_f_tn
First don't believe everything you read on the internet. HPV understanding is rapidly changing and even posts and articles written 2 years ago can be inaccurate. Many Dr.’s cannot keep up so they do what they did in the past and that may not be the most recent thought with treatment. Paps are imperfect so there is no way to know for sure regarding the mild dysplasia but mild dysplasia in not usually a Pap term and I would be interested to know what it was that they inferred the mild dysplasia from on your Pap. Do you know what the second Pap result was? Was it ASCUS, LSIL, HSIL—Pap results are usually given like this with letters. To say you had mild dysplasia would be a guess from a Pap smear. At least 40% of Paps can be read incorrectly. If you don’t know the actual result, call the office and ask for a copy of the lab report. I always get my results sent to me. The only true diagnosis comes from the colposcopy which is NORMAL. I know this is very confusing and upsetting, but some Dr.’s explain things better than others.

And don’t be upset with yourself, most people that are sexually active will get HPV at some point. Most people do not understand HPV. HPV does not cause cervical cancer. A persistent HPV infection, one that lasts several years with currently unknown factors added (maybe environmental or genetic) in some rare women usually in their late 40’s that have not had a Pap in 5 years or more may cause cancer in some rare women. Very unusual in the US. Most infections are meaningless and your colposcopy is normal which means no dysplasia. And even if there was moderate to severe dysplasia (which you don’t have and most likely never will) which would take 10-15 years to develop, this can be treated with a 100% success rate with a minor surgical treatment such as a LEEP. Since your colposcopy was normal, I would put this behind you and get your Pap in a year.

And as far as your boyfriends are concerned they would probably get HPV at some point anyway. Really no evidence that you have it or transferred it. Maybe it is time they took responsibility for themselves and used condoms. I don’t like the blame game, it is not productive for anyone. And you want to take all the responsibility and guilt, that is not healthy either. The sooner that everyone understands that HPV is usually a transient the better.
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Avatar_f_tn
Holly, my ex knows HPV is transient, but he doesn't care. He's still mad at me. I can understand him being mad, but I do feel bad about not taking this thing seriously. Reading all the risks after my 2nd pap really scared me and made me tell him everything. That's when I got blocked on FB. S*** happens.
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Avatar_f_tn
Like I said I don't like the blame game, but since there is no HPV test for men did it ever occur that he gave it to you and I say that in the nicest possible way because with your colposcopy result and your lack of answers from your Dr. I'm not sure you had HPV. I'm sorry he is mad but he also needs to take resposibility in a sexual relationship--He seems to think this is all about him and it appears he never thought about your feelings. It is possible that you are both sad and angry but it is possible that this guy is just too much into himself. There are men on this site that have wifes that have been diagnosed with cervical cancer, and they don't have HPV sometimes you can be exposed and not get it, no one knows why. And these men are supportive.
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Avatar_f_tn
This was a new guy I started seeing over a year after my first positive, Holly. My doctor did also entertain the possibility that I cleared my previous strain and got another one from this new guy.
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Avatar_f_tn
That is actually more probable that you may even believe because usually high risk HPV with a very sensitive test such as a PCR test, clears 4 mentrual cycles later. I don't like the HPV test on the market in the US because it is very unreliable, it is a crap shoot if you really have HPV and your Pap results don't appear to help. I would rely only on your colposcopy.
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Avatar_f_tn
I want to be retested with that other test you mentioned that is not in the US. I can't possibly keep testing positive if I'm always coming out normal. I read somewhere that the cross-reactivity of the HC2 test has resulted in overtreatment. Still, I think it's better to be safe than sorry.
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Avatar_n_tn
everyone, i heard this DNA PCR test is available somewhere in china. I know there are a lot of negativity story about china but this one it's a famous big clinic so not sure what to believe. Im not in china but i might want to give it a visit if it's true that we can detect our HPV infection 99.9%
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Avatar_f_tn
I would totally go to China for this!!! Might as well. HPV has really changed the course of my life.
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Avatar_m_tn
right? wrong? wtf knows. hpv kills ALOT of people. I work in an operating room...and i am seeing young people, mostly men, with oral cancers EVERYDAY...getting their tongues resected, necks dissected and going thru chemo/radiation. IF you can call it a silver lining...HPV cancers ARE very responsive to treatment and are MUCH more curable than non-hpv oral cancers. but, thats not the point. specific strains, esp when they are mixed infections of high risk HPV may clear, but often not....they rather wax and wane for years...women get an abnormal pap or two, the a few normal ones,then some CIN...then you get a LEEP...etc...yet THESE are the types you cant see, men cant test for, etc...that everyone, incl doctors thinks you should NOT disclose. while the low risk non-cancerous warts are considered DEAL BREAKERS to most people and you MUST DISCLOSE according to doctors. grant it, the warts can be passed on during childbirth ...alot of babies and little kids come in to our hospital with HPV on their genitals and in their throats....more than you ever imagined. everyday they come in. they arent being molested. their mothers had warts ..and passed them on....it can take years for the warts to occur in these kids...even though theyve had the virus since birth. its NOT as rare as you read about. and what are these kids gonna say when they go to date...i am a virgin, but i have genital and respiratory warts and if you have sex with me, you will get them too. so, even the low risk hpv poses a serious lifelong horror story for your kids, if you choose to risk passing it along..and of course, the vaccine...kills some kids who get it. so, theres youre choices.
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