STDs Expert Forum
Am I a carrier for life
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The STD Forum is intended only for questions and support pertaining to sexually transmitted diseases other than HIV/AIDS, including chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis, human papillomavirus, genital warts, trichomonas, other vaginal infections, nongonoccal urethritis (NGU), cervicitis, molluscum contagiosum, chancroid, and pelvic inflammatory disease (PID). All questions will be answered by H. Hunter Handsfield, M.D. or Edward W Hook, MD.

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Am I a carrier for life

Dear Dr, your forum is very informative and has really eased my concerns but there are still a couple of questions which I cannot find aswers to in the archives.

About 10 years ago I was 'accused' of infecting an ex-girlfriend with HPV.  I never knew (still don't) that I was infected as I displayed absolutely no symptoms.  In the past ten years I have had several sexual partners but none have ever informed me that they have developed HPV so I assumed (rightly or wrongly) that if I did have the virus in the past it had gone and I could not infect anyone else.

I have been with my current partner for 3 years and we believe that she has recently been infected.  My questions are:

1) Is it possible for me to carry HPV without ever showing any symptoms?

2) My partner and I have been sexually active for 3 years but this is the first time she has shown any symptoms of HPV.  If I was carrying the virus would she become infected the first few times we had sex or is it possible for the the infection to lay dormant within the carrier (or receipient) for a number of years before any symptoms occur?

3) If my partner gets treatment will we continue to have problems or will we both be immune assuming we have no new sexual partners (we are getting married next month)?

4) Is it possible to carry the infection and only pass it to certain partners?

Thanks in advance
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Thanks for the thanks about the forum.  I'll help a bit, but you need to do some basic reading.  You are asking the most basic of questions about genital HPV infection, and I am puzzled that you can't find discussions about duration of infection in the archives of this forum. You could take a look at the article on HPV/warts in the link at the top of this forum, STD Quick Facts and Articles.

Asssuming you have had an average sex life, with at least a few different partners, you can be sure you have been infected with HPV.  Your past infected partner could have been infected by you, but there is no way to know and probably was no way then.  My uniform advice to all couples in which one or both persons has HPV is to totally disregard any consideration of discussion about who brought the infection into the relationship, who infected whom, etc.  It is never possible to sort it out, and and it never matters.

1) Yes, you could have carried HPV for 10 years without symptoms.  But that is very rare.  The vast majority of infections clear up after 6-18 months.

2) Either of you could have been infected for more than 3 years.  Statistically, it's more likely her than you; persistenyyour partner is properly treated and followed, as her provider recommends, so that she is protected against future cancer.  People probably do not "ping pong" infection back and forth.  You will never have an important health risk from the infection.

4) Once infected with any particular HPV type, a person is immune from catching the same type again.  So the answer is yes, a person with, say HPV-16, can transmit his/her infection to someone who has not previously been exposed to HPV-16, but not to a partner previously infected with that type.  However, it's almost impossible to ever know these things, since the vast majority of HPV infections are asymptomatic and never diagnosed.

Good luck--  HHH, MD
4 Comments
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What constitutes an average normal sex life in this day and age in the US and western countries?

If we could contrast average behaviour to the activities of those who will never be exposed to HPV it might give all of us a better perspective on how easy the virus is to catch and how extremely difficult it is to spend your entire life without being exposed.
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Anybody who has had 3 separate sex partners in his/her life has at least a 50% chance of having had HPV.  Five or more partners and it's 80% or higher.

HHH, MD
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If somebody becomes immune to HPV because the virus cleared in 6-18 months.  Will the immune person become a carrier of the virus if they are with another person that is not clear of the same strain?
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A related discussion, hpv was started.
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