Human Papillomavirus (HPV) Community
Wondering how long
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This forum is an un-mediated, patient-to-patient forum for questions and support regarding HPV issues such as: genital warts, causes, diagnosis, cervical cancer, HPV in men, PAP tests, treatment, telling your spouse or partner

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Wondering how long

I was wondering if anyone might have an answer or research this.
How long can a man have HPV for, I have read everwhere that the virus can disappear in two years, but what if you have been in a relationship for 5 years and all of the sudden your female partner gets diagnosed with high risk HPV and before you started having sex without protection she had a clear PAP and HPV test, this is assuming she didnt get any more testing done during those 5 years.
Bascially if a man have had this virus for over 5 years, does that means it takes them longer to clear, or they are carrying a strong high risk strain, and the possibilities of that man of having potential issues as throat or penil cancer are higher for that person? What will happen for future relationships? Thanks for your help
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Strains can remain dormant for a long time...I have a couple normal paps, and then had a flare up in the form of genital warts. If the doctor doesn't see a reason in further testing (aka- no warts or displaysia-cervical warts) then there probably isn't reason to worry. She can always go in for further testing. Has she had any abnormal paps before you were in the picture??
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Avatar_f_tn
Plus, if she has HPV, and if you have had sex with her (unprotected) while her HPV is active, there's a good chance you and her now share the same strains. Whether or not those strains are those that cause penile or throat cancer is hard to say. I have read that this is very un-common. What is unfortunate, is that it is hard to test a male for HPV, unless there are visible lesions. Hope I have helped a little.
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Avatar_m_tn
Thanks for the help, she never had abnormap paps, and i felt and still feeling guilt because I'm pretty sure i might have given it to her, the girl I dated before her was sleeping around, and it was a really bad breakup, but this is the reason why I was wondering for how long a man can still have the virus, would it ever disapear, and the risk in this type of cases. I also wonder with my current partner, if everything goes well with her treatment and we start having sex again, would she get an abnormal pap again?
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Avatar_f_tn
There is always that chance...like said, the strains can remain dormant then flare up due to cell changes. Don't feel guilty! HPV is soooo common its ridiculous! Best case scenario-she has fought off the virus herself and won't see it flare up ever again!! :) But, as a couple, you have to take the good with the bad...it was hard for me to tell my hubby, but he went to every procedure with me and going to another treatment next week :) I only had 2 sex partners before marrying him, so he was super understanding. There is so much scary stuff out there about HPV...but its not something to stress over because very few strains cause problems in the long-run. The best thing she can do, is get regular paps and ask TONS of questions! Docs deal with this ALL the time :)
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Avatar_m_tn
Thanks kld44, it is hard to stop thinking about this, but is something we need to do in order to continue living. Thanks or your help and you kind words.
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No problem...its nice to have people to talk to that are going through the same thing :) Hang in there and communicate. Best advice ever :)
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Avatar_f_tn
First I would want to know if the HPV test was accurate. Was her Pap Smear Abnormal and if yes what was her level of “abnormal” and what HPV test did she have that said she was HPV positive? I would want to know the number (strain eg. HPV 16 or HPV 52 etc ) of HPV that she had and that can only be done with an HPV DNA PCR test. If she is not positive by PCR then you would not be either, if you have been in a monogamous relationship. If you are not in a monogamous relationship then all bets are off—maybe you have it maybe you don’t. Some people never get it if they have a good immune system. In men it is hard to tell if you were exposed because usually there are no symptoms. Then if you know she is truly positive by DNA testing, then you have to look at what your risk is. Couples often ping the virus back and forth for a while but it should not be dangerous to either of you and you should clear it. There is some research that suggests using a condom helps to clear the virus faster. It would be unlikely that you would carry the virus for 5 years and it usually is gone in a woman 4 cycles later. Your chance of either penile cancer or oral cancer is really small, almost nil. HPV does not cause cancer, only persistent HPV does and the current thought is there has to be additionaly factors. You said “if everything goes well with her treatment” what is her treatment? Unless, she has had more than one abnormal Pap and HPV test then there should be no treatment (unless her Pap was really abnormal and showed significant disease with biopsy). How old is she?  I have posted this before, both the Pap test and the HPV test are good but they can have limitations with reliability. And if she has HPV, it is more apt to be transient and clear on its own. If she has not had a Pap in 5 years, that might put her at greater risk for finding an abnormality.
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Avatar_m_tn
There is a lot of sensationalism on the web about HPV and its dangers. In most cases it goes away with time, particularly if you do not smoke, drink moderately or not at all, have no serious immune depressing disease, and take care of your body.

I have been celibate for two years and although I think I have been exposed to HPV due to lots of partners, I have no visible signs. I think it is fair to say I was exposed to HPV-16 and I want to focus on being in even better health just in case it could come out of dormancy. I am grateful for this web set and the expert forums because I learned a lot and I learned to ignore sensationalism on the news media sites. The news media knows how to scare. That's to get attention. My own plan of action is monogamy and safe sex for a couple years into the relationship.
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1306047_tn?1333247191
...lol soscared, monogamy for the first couple of years?  I know what you mean though.  It just sounded funny.  

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Avatar_m_tn
Oh! Yeah, funny. I meant safe sex the first two years and monogamy forever.
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Avatar_m_tn
Thanks everyone for your comments and input, thank you.

To: Hollyv, thanks, pleasse see answers

I do not have the details of the test that was performed for HPV; the doctor basically said they tested for High risk or low risk, so it came back with High Risk and abnormal pap, so we don’t know what HPV high risk specific type we have.
That is my concern about persistent HPV, what if my previous partner gave it to me, reason I say that is because my current partner has been clear before and during our first 4 years, until we decided to have sex without protection.
Her treatment, she had done a Colposcopy and we are waiting for the results. She is 36 and she has been good with her yearly paps, we did hold having sex without protection for about 4 years, basically because of birth control.
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Avatar_f_tn
First a colposcopy is not treatment, it is a procedure where the Dr. looks visually at the cervical area to see if there are any areas that he sees that may look suspicious. If he sees any areas (and sometimes even if he does not) he takes a biopsy. The biopsy is then sent to a lab to be read by a pathologist. A very small amount of women will show some disease (not cancer but abnormalities) and many will be normal. There are 2-3 million abnormal Pap results in the US each year—far more than the approx.11,000 true cancers that are found. She needs to find out exactly what her Pap result was—i.e. Was it ASCUS, which stands for Atypical Cells of Undetermined Significance (which is the lowest level of abnormal and only means they could not tell if it was normal or abnormal). Did the physician when he did the colposcopy say anything to her regarding what he/she saw? By your answer, it would seem that she was HPV tested by one of the US tests that only tell if you are positive or negative for one of thirteen HPV types. There are times that this test can give a false positive and if that was the case, then neither of you would have HPV. Unfortunately, some physicians don’t know that there are false positives—and they are more concerned with making sure there is no cervical disease in the patient—and many do not give explanations for results and procedures well (The truth about the HPV test is it is better in indicating if there is no disease, if you are negative there is a good chance approx 99% you are HPV negative and don’t need a Pap for 3 years) There are 3 ways to deal with a mildly abnormal Pap ASCUS, one is to just repeat the Pap in 6 months & 12 months, the other is to go straight to colposcopy and the other is do an HPV test reflexed off the original Pap sample. The most common now is to do an HPV test reflexed off of the original specimen. There is good and bad with this approach—the good is if you are negative as I stated above, no testing for 3 years—the bad is some women are shocked to find they are HPV positive. The next step used by the physician with a patient with an abnormal Pap and an HPV positive result is to tell the patient they need to have a colposcopy (this does not mean cancer, or precancer, or HPV—they are looking to see if they find anything such as cell changes related to cervical disease)—and as said above a lot of these are normal. The physician is worried about finding true disease thus the biopsies because they don’t want to miss anything and their goal is to treat the patient. The patient is concerned about the HPV diagnosis—where they got it and how long they have had it—Dr.’s often don’t factor in to the roller coaster of emotions that people are left with. And since there is still very little known about how HPV and cervical cancer and how it is connected they can’t explain it either. They do know HPV is common and usually clears. However patients are left with thinking that they have HPV which may have been a transient illness (goes away) or a false positive test. Very few women have true cervical disease. That is why they tell patients not to worry and that approx 80% of sexually active people will contract it and clear it. Just as the Pap is not a 100% accurate, either is the standard HPV test. It is important to understand this. It is just really important to have annual exams. Womens risk does go up with smoking and a family history of cervical cancer.

You should not feel guilty for anything. I would also suggest that you relax until the biopsy results come back—they may indicate nothing.

It is important for her to get a copy of her Pap, her HPV test and her cervical biopsy results from the lab (you can ask your Dr. for a copy). She can also request a copy of the colposcopy report that he did. There is a good chance the biopsies will be normal. If there is any evidence of HPV in her cells, it should show up in the biopsy and you can post the results. It would be unusual for her to have any significant disease if she has had regular Gyn exams. Hope this helps.
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Avatar_m_tn
Thank you for all the information Hollyv, you have given me more information than what the doctor has provided, how do you know so much?
My undestanding is that is ASCUS, I dont have all the other informaiton yet, but we are requesting a copy of everything today.
Also, one more thing, what about me having the virus for about 5 years, I'm pretty sure my ex gave it to me, I have not called to ask, and not planning to, but there is a reason why we are not together anymore. Have you heard or read of any such case and if so, I guess my risk would be higher for problems (penil and throat cancer), any informaiton you can share on that would be great.
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1306047_tn?1333247191
Steve, it's not usual for the virus to remain for five years.  There is evidence to show that you still have the virus but it is not transferrable because your immune system has suppressed it to where you are never contagious again.  Some people do have a flare up if they happen to have HIV, or chemo, or get pregnant, all of which compromise the immune system and may allow the suppression to ease up enough for a flare up.  This is pretty science-y though and I don't know the medical ins and outs of that.  What I do know from being on this site for over a year, is that HPV after even two years is super duper rare.  There was a study posted a while back that charted the time it took for HPV DNA detection to go to zero.  A small number of outlier types lasted up to the two year mark but most peoples HPV became undetectable (to a very sensitive degreee) between nine and fifteen months.  For you to have gone five years would mean you are some really rare exception to this.  I guess it is possible but to latch on to such a scenario as the truth is putting a lot of faith in a unlikely scenario.  Keep in mind that HPV is so common that you can get it from good girls too.  High risk gets passed around like butter at the dinner table.  Your ex is a convenient person to blame, and it may be true, but in all reality it could have come from anywhere unless she was a virgin and your ex was your first.  Even heavy foreplay, ie, rubbing genitals together, can transfer the virus as it's skin to skin contact that does it.  How transferrable is it?  I don't know.  Do you have to rub pretty hard and have friction?  Or can you gently lay them together and get it too?  I don't know.  

As far as being higher risk for cancer, penile or throat, I don't know the answer to that one.  Holly might have an idea as her post rocked.  Otherwise you could drop $20 and ask on the Experts section.

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Avatar_f_tn
Wait for her results to return and if they are normal, then neither of you has any worry and it was probably a false positive. If she has mild changes on her biopsy suggestive of HPV, it will probably clear in 6-12 months. If this is the case you both “may” have HPV and it will probably clear in both of you—and you have both shared this strain and it should not cause you harm. That is why I don’t like the “you” may be positive for “one of thirteen” test! I like accuarcy. It is possible she got this from a prior relationship (even if she had past normal Paps). It is possible that she is the only one with HPV and you have a good immune system and even though you have a sexual relationship that you just did not get it from her. It is possible that you have HPV but it would be unusual that you would have it for 5 years and not clear it. Since there are no tests for men, it will be hard for you to know (there are actually HPV DNA PCR tests for men that are used in the academic research setting just none that are available on the commercial market). Regardless if the biopsy comes back with HPV, you are very low risk for oral or penile cancer. There are hundreds of millions of people that have sexual relationships and very, very few get oral or penile cancer (more cases in uncircumcised men, more cases in South America and Africa, and can also be related to poor hygiene). Furthermore, in both oral and penile cancer—and they are small numbers remember; only ½ of those cases are HPV positive with penile cancer and only about a ¼ of oral cancer is found to be HPV positive. Most cases of oral cancer are related to smoking and heavy alcohol use. To get cancer, it probably has more to do with genetics for both of you. For her to have Pap changes, she would need to have more than a one time positive test—she would need to have persistent HPV (there is no evidence that you have persistent HPV even with your ex girlfriends past) from the same strain and “other presently unknown” factors. For you to get cancer the same applies—HPV does not cause cancer, persistent HPV does, so you would need to have a persistent infection but along with a persistent infection you would have to add other factors (presently unknown) possibly from the environment (smoking, geographic region etc.) or genetics (your DNA). This is something you just can’t worry about because it would drive you crazy. What came first the chicken or the egg! The risk of HPV goes up with more sexual partners, smoking, a compromised immune system and a family history of cervical cancer. There are married people in monogamous relationships for years and then the wife gets cervical cancer—the husband never acquires anything; no cancer no HPV—No one knows why; Did he have a good immune system or good genes and DNA?

I understand your worry. However, don’t blame your ex unless you were a virgin when you met your ex and your present girlfriend was a virgin when you got together. Don’t play the blame game it is not healthy for anyone. So to get back to your questions if it is ASCUS, then I don’t think either of you have very much to worry about. I would be surprised if you carried the virus for 5 years but you see my thoughts above. Your risk of either penile or oral cancer is low now and even if there are problems with her biopsies, your risk is still low. I would be interested in what her Dr. said regarding her biopsy and colposcopy result. One last question has your present girlfriend had annual Paps every year and an HPV test, even in the past 5 years. When did she start to be HPV tested?
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Avatar_m_tn
To answer the question she had her yearly Paps and everything came out normal, the first time that came abnormal was recently and if I'm not mistaken they do HPV test with every Pap, if not, then they did with this Pap.

Thank you both for all the information, i will now try to relax, this thing is so confusing and there is so much misinformation out there. I dont know why I'm so concern with the risk to man, doctors most of the times dont even mention it, my gp said not to worry about it. It is so hard to not think about it when the one you love is going through all this stuff and makes you wonder what will happen at the end.

We have requested a copy fo the results and as soon as they come back i will let you know.

Thank you again
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Avatar_m_tn
Hollyv and Vandykd3, I have not received the paper copy yet, but after speaking with the Nurse she said that it was low, and that another pap is recommended after 6 months, and from there we will see.

I asked her I didnt understand, and the lady basically said, is low, no need to worry, we will see after 6 months, in which hopefully her system will clear it out, this is very confusing, do you konw anything about this type of cases? I just think is scary to sit and wait for 6 months after knowing you have something, but have to wait 6 months to see if your system clears it.
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It sounds as if the office is avoiding giving you the actual reports. It is her “right” to get them, especially if as it appears they are not doing a good job with explanations to you. They don’t do an automatic HPV test every year. They don’t an HPV test with a normal Pap unless you are over 30 and ask for it because either you or your insurance pays for it. They tend to do it automatically with an ASCUS result (often ASCUS is normal or very mildly abnormal—can be caused by inflammation or read wrong by a cytotechnologist). An HPV test should only be done every three years with a normal Pap, “more is not better”. It is possible this is her first HPV test. The fact that they are saying it is low (not a medical term) and no need to worry, appears that they did not find much (and very probable nothing at all). The only way to know exactly what they found is to get the actual reports. It may be a false positive result for the HPV test. The HPV test as I said before is known to be not accurate. The only way to know for sure if they found anything is if they did a biopsy. Did they do a biopsy with the colposcopy? The reason to repeat a Pap in 6 months is that is what the current gynecologic guidelines say to do—to check the Pap in 6 months after colposcopy if they did not find anything unusual or abnormal and then again at one year. The Dr.’s office is just following the guidelines. The fact is that most colposcopies are normal but they scare women (and their partners) when they don’t understand the procedure. I think you can relax now, this same result happens to millions of women a year.
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Avatar_m_tn
Thank you, yes, this was the result or the call after the Colposcopy, the doctor did do a biopsy, my understanding is that she clip a few times and pull little pieces which then were sent to the lab, I'm still waiting for the copy of the Colposcoy exam. I'm glad there is people like you in this site that help with facts and good understanding of humanity, thank you.
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