STDs Expert Forum
HPV - Clarification on New Relationship and Transmission
About This Forum:

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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HPV - Clarification on New Relationship and Transmission

Hello

Firstly, thank you for such an informative and re-assuring site - there is so much misinformation on the internet that it is quite frankly a little scary to read.  I have read all the HPV information provided on here, but as usual and i think as most people do, i require a final bit of re-assurance for my own situation in order to forget it and move on.

I had unprotected sex in May 2012 and noticed 2 small warts in August.  I visited our hospital in September and they confirmed it was Genital Warts.  I also had a full STD testing at that time, which fortunately came back negative for everything else. I have since been attending the hospital every 1 or 2 weeks for treatment, which involved having the warts frozen.  As of the last couple of weeks, they seem to have finally vanished, despite my particular attention to seeking new ones.

The information i've found seems to suggest 6 months from the warts disappearing, without a recurrence and you could consider yourself "cured".  I am however in a new relationship, and am reluctant to disclose this to him.  So i guess i'm seeking advice on how to proceed now.  I can't decide whether it is better in the long run to inform him, or whether i can wait it out long enough that is is highly unlikely he would be infected. It would feel a terrible situation for all concerned if i did end up infecting him, he presented with warts, and i hadn't disclosed it to him.  

So my questions are:

1. Now it appears my warts have currently gone - is the advice still to wait 6 months with no recurrence to consider the infection "cured".

2. Would it be safe to share physical hand to genital contact with each other without infecting him?

3. Would it be safe to share mutual oral sex without infecting him now the warts have gone?

4. At what point would you advise it may be safe to start having protected sex with him?

I guess i'm trying to define a point at which i can forget about this and move on.
239123_tn?1267651214
Welcome to the forum and thanks for your question.  Thanks too for taking the time to review other questions similar to yours.

Being confident about cure 6 months after no recurrence is quite arbitrary.  The longer you go, the more certain it will be:  3 months might be sufficient, but 6 months is more secure -- but even after 1-2 years, there is no guarantee.  Sometimes warts and other manifestations, such as an abnormal pap smear, pop up years later.  It doesn't usually happen, but if it does, its usually unknown whether it's an old infection recurring or a newly acquired one.

My other general comment is that you shouldn't be overly freaked by having warts.  They are a minor inconvenience, not a serious health threat.  Second, if your new partner ever develops warts, there will be no way to trace them to you.  Assuming he has had other sex partners, there's a good chance he's carrying his own HPV strains already.  For the large majority of HPV infections it is never possible to know for sure when and from whom they were acquired.  In fact, I'm not at all certain your August warts were from the exposure in May.  

To your specific questions:

1) See above; at 6 months you'll probably be home free, but there are no guarantees.

2,3) Hand-genital contact and oral sex may not be entirely risk free with respect to HPV transmission, but transmission is a lot less likely than by intercourse.  Oral HPV almost never causes symptoms anywayn -- i.e. rarely results in visible warts -- so no point in worrying about it.

4) As suggested above, there are no hard and fast rules.  But my general advice is that avoiding HPV is pretty much a lost cause anyway; almost all sexually active people get HPV, probably more than once, and most infections cause no disease.  Don't let this interfere with love, romance, and sexual fulfillment.

If I were to personalize this put myself in your shoes, I would discuss the situation with my new partner; encourage him to be immunized with Gardasil; and wait until ~2 months (a month after his second dose of vaccine) before having unprotected vaginal or anal sex.  Until then, I would not worry about mutual masturbation or oral sex; and if my partner agreed -- that is, if he has a properly casual attitude toward this rather minor problem, I probably also start having condom-protected vaginal sex, i.e. without waiting those two months.  I would do all this with the understanding that there is still some chance up HPV appearing in our relationship -- and just deal with that if it comes up.  It probably won't.

I hope this has been helpful.  Best wishes--  HHH, MD
2 Comments
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Thank you for your considered and personalised reply. My initial thoughts were that there is no way i could ask him about getting vaccinated, but after having considered it, i think if the relationship does become serious enough, it may be the way forward so that there are no guilty consciences and feelings of deceit, and would reduce any risk for him. Strangely, i hadn't considered this as an option myself, i think because it seems to be directed at younger men.  Is it effective in older men?

Whilst i now consider HPV to be a current inconvenience, when i first realised i'd been infected, i was mortified, scared and angry, and it's those reactions i'm worried about from him.  I'm still fairly certain that if i brought this up, and he does his own research, he will decide that it all sounds a bit too scary.  If he presented with warts after being with me, although scientifically he could have caught HPV previously, i think the co-incidence would be enough to convince him it was me. .

However, just theoretically, If i felt i couldn't mention it and wanted to wait the 6 months, (although i accept that is an arbitrary figure) and i accept that the risk is lower for genital/hand transmission and oral in the meantime, at what point would you give an educated guess that protected sex may become acceptable without such a huge risk of infecting him, being that my warts seem to have disappeared completely?

I appreciate i'm asking for answers that aren't really out there, but i would appreciate advice on how you would handle it if you felt you couldn't tell him.  

And with that, i will make my decision and put this to rest in my mind! I appreciate you're probably going to say not to worry so much about it, but i'm sure you understand, the stigma attached to this is far worse than the thing itself!  And thank you in advance for all your help.
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