Thank you very much for your reply. After reading it, I searched the forum to see if there were any people who might be concerned about the same HPV related issues that I am concerned and anxious about. I was surprised to see that I was far from being the only one. And you have answered all those questions, some of them very similar to mine, and some of them almost exactly the same, one by one, over and over again. You must have the patience of a saint and the heart of an angel. Thank you!
I realize that I am probably stressing out more than most people who have been diagnosed with HPV. I can not believe that I found myself in this situation; so anxious and stressed out. Since you have been so supportive and sincerely eager to help, I would like to share a couple or so honest confessions here. Despite being told by you and a few other people that non-sexual transmission of HPV through casual, daily contact is highly unlikely, phrases like "inconclusive evidence that the virus can be spread through objects" and words like "unlikely" keep making me nervous because "unlikely" isn't exactly the same thing as "impossible." The idea of hurting or harming someone by accidentally infecting them with a potentially life-threatening virus, even though the likelihood may be very low, is truly horrifying to me.
So I have been told by you and others that sharing the bathroom, a washer/dryer, toilet paper roll, etc. will not transmit genital HPV. But I have also seen advice against, for instance, not sharing a towel used on genitals especially if there are visible lesions. I keep thinking to myself, if a towel can be contaminated like that, my pants, belt and shirt may also be contaminated because I have to touch them to pull my pants and fasten my belt after
I use the toilet before
I can wash my hands. Last week, a friend who was staying with us touched my (completely dry but used) bathrobe hanging on the bathroom wall to move it and I freaked out.
These days I find myself washing my hands at least 3 or 4 times for almost half an hour after I use the bathroom, touch my genital area or even change my pants. It is pitiful,
but like you said there aren't many "common guidelines about HPV and casual transmission in workplace or home settings" and since I can't see the darned virus with my bare eyes, I keep rubbing, lathering, rinsing my hands vigorously for half an hour, fearing that if I miss a spot I may end up giving someone a potentially dangerous virus.
While my logical side says "you are over-doing it, stop!" my emotional side says "it's not worth saving a few minutes, just keep washing your hands so that you make sure you don't infect anyone."
Same with taking showers, like I mentioned above. What used to take me 20 minutes, now takes me over an hour, because I keep washing my hands every time I wash or touch my genital area, fearing that I may contaminate other body parts like arms and legs and then touch other people and infect them.
All my life I had been a happy, content and cheerful person and now I feel like I turned into one of those people with hand washing/cleaning obsessions. I have never had OCD-like tendencies or behavior before. I thought about seeing a counselor or a therapist but I know that it is probably not going to make me feel better because he will not have a background in sexually transmitted infections. I understand that nobody seems to be able to give 100% definitive answers about HPV transmission because there are still a lot of things not well known or understood about this virus, but at least I wish I knew:
-how long the virus survives outside the body before it stops being infectious,
-how and how long I should wash my hands and with what kind of soap to make sure they are not contaminated anymore,
-if I must touch my genitals when there is no water/soap, will an alcohol based hand sanitizer work for HPV?, if not is there a similar product that would?,
-do I really have to wash my hands every time I wash/touch my genital area while taking a shower?
You are right, I do not have any visible lesions and the last time I had any sexual contact was in mid-2006. That's when I started avoiding all sexual contact because that's when my girlfriend at the time told me she was diagnosed with high risk HPV. So it has been over 3 years. According to this I may have "cleared the virus" but there is no way to know, no test for males... and one thing I have difficulty understanding is what exactly it means to "clear the HPV infection"
Some sources say "most people clear the infection within 2 years" but then some also say "in later years, it may come back" - So what exactly does it mean to "clear the infection?" Does it mean the virus is completely eliminated from the body? If it is not and the virus can surface again years later how/why is it called "cleared?" Are they talking about "clearing the virus" or "clearing the symptoms?" What about infectivity?
I appreciate your concern about me avoiding any kind of sexual activity, but even the idea of risking infecting someone with a potentially life-threatening virus for 20 minutes of fun terrifies me..
All documents I read say that condoms aren't 100% effective against preventing HPV transmission and that abstinence is the only 100% sure way to avoid infection with HPV. I would probably not even be able to have and enjoy sex with all these things in my mind anyway. And that's OK. I can live without sex. If I can just make sure I don't infect anyone through casual/non-sexual contact.
Like I said, I understand that you can only answer so many of these questions and some of your answers can not be 100% definitive (oh how I wish they could be) because as of right now nobody really has 100% definitive answers to some of these issues raised. Still, I really value your opinions, comments and replies very much. I understand that from this point on, I should use my own mind, logic and reasoning in the light of what has been told to me by you and other experts to come to personal conclusions about how to deal with HPV. Thank you once again for all your help and support.