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HPV hand genital transmission
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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 hand genital transmission

I am a middle aged male. I have had only one extra-marital exposure (much regretted) which involved contact between my fingers and a woman´s genitals, just over 1 year ago. Six months after the incident I was tested (in Europe) and it - type 56 -was found only on my fingers, not on my genitals. In the months following initial exposure I used fingers with my wife on around 5 occasions, before I realised there was any risk, and then stopped.

My questions:  

1)  If I picked up HPV 56 on my fingers, am I likely to have have passed it on?  I note that HPV 56 has been found in cases on Bowen´s disease on the fingers and so may be more at home on the fingers than other strains. Would this, and the fact that it was still traceable after six months, suggest that it would be strong enough an infection to be passed on?

2) Is the fact that I hadn´t spread it to my own genitals by touching likely to mean that it is too weak to be passed on to another person? I note that usually people who have it on their fingers have a genital infection with the same strain suggesting it is possible to have the infection in two places at once. Also, if I had passed it by finger to my wife´s genitals would I not have then picked up the infection from her on my own genitals ? (my wife and I often don´t usually use condoms). This didn´t happen - does that mean she probably hasn´t been infected?

My wife will be going for a pap smear soon, and I want to know how likely it it to be abnormal.
Many thanks for your help

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300980_tn?1194933000
Welcome back to the Forum.  In considering your question I reviewed some of your 48 earlier posts o over the past year.  It's clear that this problem has been on your mind quite a while.  Most of the HPV literature has focuses on HPV types 6, 11, 16, and 18 and there is little that I am aware of looking at HPV 56.  As you probably aware, different HPV types have a tendency to "prefer" to infect different locations on the body.  Thus types that infect the genitals rarely cause infections on the hands and feet and vis versa.  HPV 56 is not among the viruses listed as typically associated with genital infection.  On the other hand, another important fact is that HPV, if you look hard enough and with sensitive enough tests can be found almost anywhere.  Thus, my initial reaction is to wonder whether or not the HPV 56 detected on your finger is even due to the extramarital encounter you mention or could just be a coincidence discovered when you started testing  (I’m impressed and perhaps a bit worried that you were able to get someone to test your finger).  Furthermore, as you have heard before, the chances of HPV being transmitted from finger to the genital tract are very, very low.   With these comments as background, let's consider your questions:

1.  See above.  The chance that you passed this infection on to your wife through digital contact (with any part of her body) are very low.  Even if it happened ( and I emphasize again this is unlikely), the chances that it would have deleterious effects on her health are also very low.
2.  This question is, unfortunately unanswerable beyond the comments I've already made.

I'm betting your wife's PAP smear will be normal.  Whether it is or not however, I am a bit concerned about you.  From your posts it appears that this has been a major concern to you for quite some time.  To that end, rather than suffer all of the consequences of these concerns, I would suggest you consider counseling and/or acknowledging what has happened.  I hope this helps.  EWH
8 Comments
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Thank you for your helpful reply. Yes, I have been very stressed about this, for over a year. I just can't live (although I'm trying my best to) with knowing that I let my family down like that. I've had some counselling  and am slowly returning to normality but the thought of having exposed  my wife to HPV, and what that might entail, still hangs over me every day.

Thank you for confirming that the chance of passing the infection by digital-genital contact is very small.  The only reason why I'm finding it difficult to accept this and move on is that I can't understand why it should be so unlikely - is it that the infection is unlikely to be as 'live' or strong enough on the finger (a less favourable environment) to infect the genitals, or that the friction in 'fingering' is weaker or that the infection is not likely to make its way to the cervix?

By the way, my understanding is that HPV 56 does cause a small proportion of genital cancers, but that it is the weakest of the 'high risk/intermediate' strains

Many thanks as always for your help and consideration. I am sorry for having posted 48 times, but I have to say that Medhelp saved my life, especially in the early panicking stages.
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300980_tn?1194933000
You have answered your own question.  Indeed, different HPV types are distinguished from one another by their genetic make-up.  those changes, in turn are also related to the fact that different types of HPV "prefer" different types of skin to cause infection.  In addition, HPV transmission is facilitated by microscopic friction which helps to introduce the virus into the skin.  Transfer from or secretions on a finger has far less friction associated with it than intercourse.  Take care.  EWH
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If I can carry the thread on for one more question I just wanted to confirm that you are sure that HPV infection through fomites is impossible or at least very unlikely. Every time one of my daughters,for example, picks up a suitcase the handle of which I have been holding in the hand which has the infection on the fingers, I get very stressed although I know that they are very unlikely to get HPV from this.

Finally, I know this thread is not meant for counselling, but could you say more about what you mean by acknowledging what happened, and how this would help?  I can explain how it happened - diminished responsibility, fatigue and unaccustomed drunkenness far from home, peer pressure from a colleague who set me up and said there would be no risk, no one would know  etc. etc.,  but I still can't accept that I did it. I am paralysed just thinking about it, which most of the day.  Many thanks again for your help and support.
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Avatar_n_tn
This really is the last post. Some sites, including cdc, raise the possibility of oral hpv by mouth to mouth contact - I assume this is not really a risk?  Am I also right in saying that even if I had oral HPV, I could still give cunnilingus to my wife without putting her at risk?

If you can answer the last questions I'd really appreciate it.

Many thanks
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Avatar_n_tn
i am not a doctor but my understanding is hpv is a STD. STD meens sexually transmitted disease and someone touching a suitcase and getting it is no different then saynig they can get aids from touching a suite case fact is most doctors can give u there opinions and isnt 100% accurate HPV is not well understood atm best bet is to talk to a nocturalist or w/e the name of an STD doctor is they can give you the most information but as for worrying about the suitecase id consider her lucky if she gets HPV from that because she would most likely be the first
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300980_tn?1194933000
This will be my last comment on this subject.

HPV is virtually everywhere and virtually everyone gets HPV at some time.  The more the topic is studied the more instances are described in which HPV DNA is detected at sites not typically considered as "typical" for infection.  The detection process detects viral DNA but does not mean the infection is active or present and certainly does not mean that the concerning consequences of HPV will be occur.

Could there be HPV at ___________? (you can fill in the blank) - perhaps, with some sites like a suitcase handle being less likely than others and really bordering on the absurd).  As explained above, the risk is miniscule.  My suspicion is that your paralyzing phobia is as much a manifesxtation of guilt as anythng else.  I would urge you to consider counseling and working to get by this rather than fueling your concern with a cascade of "what if" questions.  I have nothing more to say.  EWH
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Many thanks for your replies, Doctor, I will try to follow your advice.  
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