Human Papillomavirus (HPV) Community
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Avatar universal

How Do They Know???

So we've all read all the statistics on this stupid HPV thing 80% of people will have it but only1% show warts yadda yadda yadda
Some things have been confusing to me.

If there are no tests for it and the virus is in dormancy, how can "they" tell that 80% of people have it?

Do 80% of people have any of the strains (including common wart) or 80% have a sexual strain?

Im told (by Dr Hook) that the high risk strain is the most common, therfore am I to believe most of the 80% are high risk HPV? What percent is low risk, (like warts)

How can they tell if only a small number of people who are exposed to the wart strain actually get clinical warts?

Was there a big study done and I cant find this?

Personally I think (if this virus is this incredibly prevalent) that Everyone has it and it is picked up on surfaces and can be on hands whatnot at any given time. It is the act of sex that "grinds" it in through tears in the genital skin and thats why people who dont have sex dont really get it. My reasoning behind this thinking is the ability to so easily catch "common" wart viruses on the feet simply by walking through a common area, the feet are more likely to be scraped. Does this make sense? I suppose in this vein that virgins would be able to catch the genital strains if they were to cause damage to the genitals while infected with a virus. (Example touch a latch on a bathroom door to close it and then scratch genitals while using the washroom)

3 Responses
Avatar universal
I believe the statistics are for genital infections.

And there are HPV tests available, although it is usually done for women only. This is why most doctors say that X% of women have HPV and the stats are likely similar for men.

While everybody hasn't been tested, there has been a big enough sample that we can get a pretty accurate picture of the population as a whole.

I think the trouble with warts is that they often go unnoticed. Most likely more than 1% of the population has warts at any given time, but they are small and not identified, or passed off as something else. Kind of similar to Herpes. Most people that have herpes don't know it, but it isn't just because they don't have symptoms. Sometimes they have mild and infrequent symptoms that they attribute to heat rash, chaffing or other causes.

I don't think that people are picking up HPV from surfaces and the environment in general. While I am sure it happens occasionally (and even then it is more likely to once removed as opposed to surface-hand-genital), in practice it is rarely seen. So this might be one reason why virgins occasionally contract HPV. Often people are not totally honest about their sexual experiences though, and can outright lie about intercourse, or not count incidents that are very intimate, involve skin to skin contact, but fall short of intercourse.

I don't know if genital HPV would behave like common warts. They are similar, but different viruses which have adapted to infect specific sites. Common warts hardly ever infect the genitals and genital HPV doesn't cause problems elsewhere (apart from the oral region, but this is a lot like genital skin). If they infect different skin, it is likely that the mode of infection is different as well.

I think the reason why genital HPV is so prevalent is because people typically have more than one lifetime partner, often having at least a handful in their late teens to early twenties. More importantly, the infection lasts a long time and usually isn't treated because there are no symptoms. So if a person has HPV for 2 years and 2 partners within those 2 years, there is a good chance that they have passed it to 2 people. Of course their partners have likely had others while they have been infected, and their partners have had others, and so on and so on.

Being highly contagious, and having a long period of infection, and without causing obvious symptoms, HPV can spread very quickly through the population, especially among single people, even though they aren't particularly promiscuous.
Avatar universal
I agree with your comment but Ive yet to see any documentation that explains how long each of the different strains remain viable/infectious on a surface. I know that the differences in strains allow them to favor where to grow (mucosal vs harder keratin) but I would think that all the HPV types are similar enough such that they could survive equally (foot strains could be on the floor, whatnot) being nonenveloped allows them to be tougher as well. Are you familar with any papers which address this? Of course I would have to believe that researchers have addressed this at some point as Guardisil is administered to ages 9 + (pre sexual age) I would think if the virus could truely be picked up easily by fomites that guardisil would have been included in the postnatal vaccine coctails to avoid exposure. Then again new developments in viral infections are being discovered constantly. There was recently a program on the passionate eye that dealt with several young heathy women working closely together in the same office coming down with breast cancer. The consensus was that it was viral and could be "caught". Just today I was watching Dr Oz and he was talking about some tie-in between chronic fatigue and retrovirus infection. Its enough to make someone crazy!
1118884 tn?1338596450
You've gotten some good info here, chicahia.
I had never heard of HPV, until undiagnosed anal cancer surprised me.
Even tho' I had two or three specialists @ MDAnderson, and almost died from chemo and c diff....I never learned anything about this virus.
The doctor who missed anal cancer when doing colonoscopy was good, but he just didn't see the squamous cell cancers growing on skin @ anus....I'm guessing.

I was finally diagnosed @ 72 and have made it two years.
My challenge is more immediate, I suppose.  Have to deal with what doc calls late effects of chemo and radiation.  Not sure they knew about this 6 months ago, as medical oncologist said chemo effects were over as soon as I completed treatment.

So I am no expert, only know that compulsive searches for answers are not helpful.
Medical community is groping its way to answers which may not come in time for some patients. I think a focused talk with your doc or therapist or both could benefit you

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