STDs Expert Forum
HPV clarification
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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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HPV clarification

I'm sure you're going to find my question somewhat similar to the rest, but I've read nearly every post you've answered dealing with HPV and I still feel the need to ask questions.

I was in a relationship, during which my girlfriend tested positive for a HR strand of HPV. We are now broken up, and she is about to undergo a LEEP procedure. I contracted this from her(or transmitted to her) 3+-4 years ago. Hadn't sex with anyone since then besides my current. We've had sex 5 or so times, all protected. Here's the facts:
- It's been at least 3 years since I contracted HRHPV.
- I haven't had sex with anyone since then so I haven't contracted any other strands. (Tested negative for all male STD tests)
- My current partner has 'been around', definitely more so than me. (around 15+ partners at least)
- I take care of my body, exercise frequently, and in quite good of shape. My immune system has always been above average.
What I ask you is this, and your opinion matters as much as facts:

How small of a risk, if any, do you THINK that I am to my current and future partners from my original HPV infection? If you could just give me an estimated percentage(obviously your opinion) that would help immensely. I notice that in posts sometimes you say "You may not be at risk" or that it is "most likely cleared in 6-24 months" but in 3+ years would it be acceptable to say it is a VERY small to zero risk? Will she have same outcome as my previous, needing a LEEP?

I'm in the position now where I don't feel like I can tell my partner about it. It will almost definitely result in a punch in the face and full disclosure to everyone I know. If I ever met someone that I felt was 'the one', I would have this talk up front but I find in casual relationships this day and age it might be overkill a bit. I realize that HPV isn't a huge deal but 90% of people don't understand and don't care to understand it, other than that it is disgusting and you are disgusting and dirty if you have it.
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I applaud your concern and desire to do the right thing by your partner.  Having read so many of our prior posts, I suspect that much of what I have to say will be repetitive but I will try to focus the comments on your specific situation.  Even before I begin to address your well phrased and targeted questions however, I want to tell you that I will not be able to give you precise figures - as you note, if I were to do so it would reflect my own opinion, not fact and that would be misleading.  Thus my answers will be somewhat more vague than I suspect you hope for.  Now, on you your questions:

1.  You assume that either you gave HPV to your prior partners or she gave it to you.  That need not be the case.  It is persistence of HPV that causes PAP smear abnormalities and problems and thus she might have come into her relationship with you already infected with HPV.
2.  You note that your current partner has had more than 10 prior sex partners.  This being the case, the chance that she does not already have HPV infection is negligible.  I would presume she does or has had infection in the past and cleared it.
3.  Presuming that you were exposed to high risk HPV in your prior relationship, now, more than 3 years later, the odds are that, IF you were infected, odds are greater than 95% that your body has eliminated the infection and that it is no longer present.
4.  If you were infected and if you gave it to your current partner, there is ABSOLUTELY no reason to think that she too would develop progressive PAP smear changes and need a LEEP.  In fact that odds are very high (greater than 90%) that she would not.
5.  Regarding disclosure.  In general, HPV is so common and such a non-issue that we don't routinely urge clients in your position to disclose to current partners.  There is no reason to think that you have HPV at this time or that for you to not disclose would put your current (and future) partners at risk.  On the other hand, if they are in the age range for it (less than 26 years) we would recommend the HPV vaccine for all women.  You could do this.

Hope these comments help.  More information can be accessed through excellent informational web sites such as the one run by the American Social Health Association (disclosure, Dr. Handsfield and I are both on the Board of Directors of ASHA).  

Hope these comments help.  EWH
2 Comments
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Wow. Thank you for the fast and accurate response. You and Dr. Handsfield truly do amazing work on this site.
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