STDs Expert Forum
HPV question
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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 question

Hello Doctor,


15 weeks ago I had a unprotected sex and sex with a condom with the same partner multiple times after that. I was tested for all stds a few days ago, results all negative. I had been having some discharge and vaginal irritation-that was what brought me in to the doctor. I asked the doctor to be tested for HPV and he said it was not necessary as he doesn't think I have signs of genital warts and my last pap smear 10 months ago was normal. He said that HPV testing is not very useful for those under 30( I'm 29) because many women come back with a positive result.

That has me confused. I always had the impression that the HPV test is useful in identifying what strains you may have and if you have the strain that causes genital warts.

My questions are:

Is my doctor correct??
Is there a test that identifies strains of HPV-specifically the the strain the cause genital warts??
Do I need still need to pursue the HPV testing??

Thank you for taking the time to read my post.
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The topic of HPV and genital warts is a complex one.  I will try to provide some facts.  For addition information on this most common of STDs, I would suggest search for other HPV- and wart-related Q&A on this site, as well seeking addition information on sites such as the American Social health Association web-site (disclosure, Dr. Handsfield and I are both on the Board of ASHA)..

Before I get into HPV, let me mention that neither warts nor HPV regularly cause vaginal discharge.  Now, on to HPV.  HPV is the most commonly acquired STD.  Over 85% of sexually active women will have HPV infection at some time in their lives.  In some HPV will cause genital warts, in others it will not cause warts but may lead to changes in PAP smears.  In nearly everyone who gets HPV, warts or otherwise, the infections will resolve by themselves without therapy in 8-10 months.  In a very small minority of women, HPV infection can persist and lead to the pre-cancerous lesions that PAP smears detect and which can then be treated.  With this as background, I would agree with your doctor. HPV testing is not recommended, even if your partner was known to have HPV or warts and you did not mention that.  Rather, if you were found to have HPV at this time, you would not know where you got it and, more importantly, there would be no therapy recommended other than a repeat Pap smear upon your next scheduled appointment.  In answer to your specific questions:

1. Your doctor sounds well informed.  I would go with his advice.
2. There are tests, they are expensive and offer you no information that would help you in any way at this time.
3. Nope.  You have a good doctor and get regular check ups.  This is the right thing to do and the best thing you can do at this time.

Hope this helps.  EWH
6 Comments
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Avatar_n_tn
Thanks for your prompt response. Is there anything other than the warts that could be a sign of HPV infection??? I have no obvious outside signs, no actual warts that I can see but have been having on and off vaginal burning and irritation.
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300980_tn?1194933000
No, other than the presence of warts theyre are rearely symptoms associated with warts.  Your symptoms of burning and irritation are almost certainly not due to warts.  EWH
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473345_tn?1228240135
Hello Doc..I have a Question as well to do with HPV..I have a doc app on monday to know 4 sure...but i have been with my b/f 4 a year know and yesterday he found out he had genital warts (hpv)..he said hes been faithful to me and i beleive him. So that just leaves me! which i have been faithful too..but i was with somone else 2 months before i met my b/f and had a pap test 1  month before i met my b/f and everything came back fine..but I have been having buring senstaions which i was told by my doc was bladder infections that where treated 4. Could the doc be wrong..? Could it have been HPV and not knowing it....could i have had HPV  4 a whole year and gave it to my b/f?....I really feel like **** knowing that i did that to him..im confussed, angery and feel less attractive to him. Hes been really good to me and it didnt seem to phase him one bit when he got his results...this weekends been killing me waiting to see a doc,,...please help!
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207091_tn?1337713093
You need to post your own question for a doc to answer it.  

It is possible either one of you had this prior to the relationship.  There is no way of knowing who had it and it doesn't even matter.  HPV is very common, and if he's not concerned, why are you?

And if your doc said it was a bladder infection, then it probably was.

AJ
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473345_tn?1228240135
ya thanks i now that know..but at the time i was new to this.... And I was concerned because i've never heard about HPV before until my b/f got it and i wanted to know where it came from if he might have cheated or not!. and it freaked me out...i know all about it know and its not a biggie... but im sure u would feel the same way....
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H. Hunter Handsfield, M.D.Blank
University of Washington
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