Hi there Marty,
Thanks for joining our community.
It can be really difficult to know which partner might have had HPV first, or how long ago they were exposed to the virus. It often does take a few weeks or months for signs of HPV to be detected, but it can reasonably take many years. HPV in and of itself doesn't mean that anyone has been outside the relationship recently, but the "when" and "from whom" questions are often never really answered.
When someone is first diagnosed with HPV, it can be very difficult on a person's self-image. These emotions of guilt and shame often stem from the fact that we grow up with a lot of misconceptions about STDs, such as who gets them and why. In reality, an HPV diagnosis does not reveal anything about a person's values, their personality, or choices, only that they like many others, have contracted a common virus. You are taking an important step by educating yourself about HPV.
You've been through a great deal, especially with what you mentioned happened when you were a child. If you need help sorting through any of this, you might want to contact the Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network (RAINN), which is available at 1-800-656-4673 or www.rainn.org
. RAINN, a non-profit organization based in Washington, D.C., operates America's only national hotline for survivors of sexual assault. The hotline 1-800-656-HOPE offers free, confidential counseling and support 24 hours a day, from anywhere in the country. We wish you well.
There are experts who don't think it is likely couples sharing the same HPV type(s) will "ping-pong" the virus back and forth to reinfect each, and we're not aware of any data that indicate this is likely to be an issue. Some studies suggest that using condoms might help both the virus and associated skin lesions clear a bit more quickly, and sometimes couples feel more comfortable having protected sex.
While there is no medical cure for viral infections (like HPV), and HPV might exist in very small numbers in deep skin cells long after lesions (like warts) are gone, the immune system seems able in most cases to suppress the virus. While this should be regarded as opinion, some experts do believe that removing genital warts may lower the risk of transmission since it reduces the areas of tissue that contain most of the virus. Removing warts cannot guarantee that the risk of transmission is removed. However, if no symptoms recur in the subsequent months following treatment, the chance of transmission dramatically decreases, and some researchers consider the possibility of being contagious during this time would be minimal to remote.
Marty, it took a lot of courage and openess for you to post in our forums, and I'm very, very glad you did. You mentioned how your partner is many things to you, friend and teacher, and that can be a good thing. Never lose sight of the fact that there is strength and value in you, just as you are, and you are valuable and have a lot to offer in your own right. Please visit this online forum often.
Hope this helps. All the best,