Hi, thanks for posting.
I have read many posts over the past year and a half since I was diagnosed with hpv/gw in January 2009 and I am still very confused about how to be a responsible infected person. Let me start by saying that when I was diagnosed, I had a tiny wart on my scrotum that I thought was a skin tag because it was so small. Well, the tests came back being consistent with hpv. Thats when my life changed. The girl I was dating ended it with me. Subsequent girls weren't interested after I told them. Some girls were ok with it but I would just obsess that I might have given them hpv after we were intimate. Now, my sex life is non-existent.
This is my first post. I am struggling with obsessing about being careful and not transmitting this disease. I recently was on vacation with family and four of us shared a toilet and shower. I also have crohn's so I use the bathroom a lot. Well, I would sanitize the toilet seat after every use. I used my own towel and washcloth. I guess my point is I'm tired of living like this. Whenever I am expecting guests I sanitize my toilet seat. If I have a drop in, I excuse myself and sanitize my toilet seat real quick. At the gym, I'm scared to use their towels. I was even scared to use the jacuzzi, but I got over that.
Today, I had acupuncture and there was a little blood on my fingertips afterward. Then I had to use a controller to lower the automatic chair and then I had to pay. I've been worried all day that I could have transmitted hpv by touching things with a small amount of blood on my fingertips. I've been worried that the next person to use the controller could get it or that by us both touching the money, the receptionist could catch it. That's what pushed me over the limit and made me have to post this.
Your concern for others is both understandable and admirable. There is no realistic worry about transmitting a genital HPV infection in any of the settings you mention, especially one involving body fluids such as blood (HPV isn't in the bloodstream so there is no transmission risk in that regard). Toilet seats, tubs, and so on are nothing to be worried about, although you're certainly not alone in feeling the way you do. Even towels and washcloths are almost certainly not an issue; if this would ever be a problem, it would likely be when warts are present. Still, the risk of transmission would not be imminent. If you feel better using your own towel/washcloth, well, nothing wrong with that but don't worry about the rest. Really, if you're not having genital to genital contact with someone, no need to think about these things.
I've had 2 different dermatologists check me out over the past year and they didn't see any warts. They said I did not have to disclose it to potential girlfriends because there was no evidence of it. I still disclose it though because we all know that you can have it and not have symptoms. Plus I am on an immuno-suppresent for my crohn's so I think its entirely possible that I still have it.
HPV has really affected my life and made me feel like an infected person who has to always take precautions. I'm always scared that I'm going to spread it. I hate that I have to always disclose it and then still be worried I might spread it. I clean toilet seats so often that I should be a janitor and I wash my hands so much that it seems compulsive. I just need help and real answers.
What your dermatologists told you is not far out of line with what many health care providers would say. There is really no way to ever know 100% if one is able to transmit the virus or not, because no test exists that can say if the virus can be passed on or not. The immune system usually clears HPV, most often in 6-24 months. This doesn't automatically mean the virus can no longer be given to a new partner, which is beyond frustrating. Still, HPV infections usually don't persist and many experts believe the risks of transmission diminish over time in someone who has had no recurrences in a couple of years. Hard to nail it down more specifically than that, though.
Post anytime, even if you just need to hang out and vent a bit.