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National Cervical Cancer Coalition


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PostPosted: Sat Oct 31, 2009 7:54 am 

Joined: Sun Oct 18, 2009 8:13 am
Posts: 9
Hello everyone. This is my first post here but I have been reading the messages lately. Let me tell you briefly about myself and my story. I am a 34 year old male, who has been very worried about HPV. In September of 2006, I got an email from my ex-girlfriend telling me she was diagnosed with high risk HPV and she had mild dysplasia of the cervix.

I remember receiving her email and thinking to myself "What the heck is HPV?"
I have always been a very cautious person when it came to safer sex and STIs. I was always using protection and I was regularly getting tested for all the usual STDs, like Herpes, Syphilis, Chlamidia, HIV, etc. So when I received my ex-girlfriend's email, I thought to myself "I must get tested for HPV as soon as possible." It is funny I didn't even know that an STD called HPV existed. I was in for a rather unpleasant surprise when I did some research about where and how to get tested. There was no test for males! Great. So now I didn't even have a way to know for sure whether I was infected or not. I could only assume I was infected since we were having [protected] sex regularly (daily) when we were together with my ex-girlfriend. We didn't know who gave it to who, and it didn't matter too much. We just had to make sure that we both knew and understood we had HPV and did what was necessary to stay healthy and not spread it to others. So I started doing research on the Internet about HPV.

There was so much confusing information about HPV on the web. So many different opinions about HPV clearance, so many conflicting sites about HPV transmission, so many confusing statistics about cervical cancer rates vs. HPV infection rates and the list goes on and on... I was confused, stressed and worried.

I was and still am terrified of the idea of giving HPV to someone else. I haven't been sexually active since August 2006. Since then I haven't had any warts (except for a tiny bump in November 2006 - I don't know whether it was a wart or not but it was about half the size of a small grain of rice that appeared and disappeared in a few days) no other visible lesions or symptoms, nothing, but I know most people with HPV don't show any symptoms so I assumed I had the virus in my system. It took a while but I got used to the idea and relaxed a bit but then something else started to bother me:

What if I was giving this virus to others via non-sexual ways, through casual contact? I share an apartment with other people. I share a bathroom, kitchen, washer, dryer, dishwasher with these people. I used to go to the swimming pool. The idea of infecting others with HPV through non-sexual, casual contact was very scary to me so I started doing research again and once again came across a lot of conflicting information about non-sexual, causal and fomite transfer of HPV.

To this day I am very worried about giving this virus to the people around me via non-sexual ways, like;

- if I use the bathroom and fail to wash my hands properly and then touch someone else's things, clothes, towels
- if I use the toilet paper and then someone else uses the same toilet paper roll
- if I share the washing machine and dryer and then someone else uses them, or if I wash my clothes with someone elses clothes?
- if I share linens, for example if I sleep at a hotel then someone else sleeps in the same bed?
- if I share utensils or glasses? I hear HPV can infect the mouth too.
- if I swim in the sea or the pool and then sit on the plastic chair with my wet shorts and then someone else sits on the same plastic chair?
- what if I have to use a public bathroom and there is no soap?

I wash my hands several times after I use the bathroom. I still worry about HPV because after using the toilet, I have to pull my pants before washing my hands, thus possibly contaminating my pants, my belt and shirt. So, then I end up trying not to touch the lower parts of my shirt or my pants or belt again to make sure I dont get the virus back onto my hands.
[CONTINUED IN NEXT MESSAGE]


Last edited by backtohappydays on Sat Oct 31, 2009 9:17 am, edited 2 times in total.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sat Oct 31, 2009 9:14 am 

Joined: Sun Oct 18, 2009 8:13 am
Posts: 9
[CONTINUING FROM THE MESSAGE ABOVE]

Showering takes a lot of time because I make sure I wash my hands several times if I touch my genitals, before touching the rest of my body, to avoid contaminating other parts of my body. I feel like even my feet may be contaminated and spreading the virus because in the shower the water and soap from my genitals flow down my legs onto my feet. Is HPV then carried on my feet to every place I go? Then I get paranoid about things getting contaminated with HPV if I drop them on the floor because I walk around with my possibly contaminated feet and contaminate the carpet. I don't even hang my worn jeans in the closet with the other clothes because I fear the inside of my jeans may touch and contaminate the clothes or objects they come in contact with.

I try to find accurate information about how long the HPV virus lasts (stays infectious) outside the body and I can not find a definite answer on the web. I use Purell hand sanitizer on my hands all the time but I dont know if it is effective on viruses like HPV.....And this list goes on and on... All of this has been causing me a lot of stress. I am not sure who or where to go for the answers but some accurate answers and expert opinion would surely be greatly appreciated.

So this was my story and I am really hoping that it will have a happy ending.
I do have a feeling that some of the precautions I describe above may be unnecessary or irrational. But I just can't put them completely out of my mind because I keep finding conflicting or confusing opinions on the subject on the Internet. Any comments or expert opinion would be appreciated.
Best wishes to every one of you here. :)


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PostPosted: Mon Nov 02, 2009 10:51 am 

Joined: Sun Oct 18, 2009 8:13 am
Posts: 9
So my post was viewed almost 80 times but no one shared any opinions. Are my fears about spreading HPV irrational? Or am I doing the right thing by being extra careful? Why does information about HPV have to be so conflicting and confusing?


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 Post subject: ...
PostPosted: Mon Nov 02, 2009 11:49 pm 

Joined: Wed Sep 09, 2009 2:51 am
Posts: 7
...


Last edited by athenalove on Tue Apr 06, 2010 8:24 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Nov 03, 2009 1:44 pm 
Site Admin

Joined: Wed Oct 04, 2006 4:08 pm
Posts: 2122
Location: North Carolina
backtohappydays wrote:

Quote:
Are my fears about spreading HPV irrational?


Well, pal, just a little... :wink:

I can only imagine how much you've suffered the last few years. Let me officially give you permission to relax about all these scenarios. Even if you did contract HPV from this ex-partner, it's highly likely the virus has been cleared by now.

You also wrote: To this day I am very worried about giving this virus to the people around me via non-sexual ways, like;

- if I use the bathroom and fail to wash my hands properly and then touch someone else's things, clothes, towels NO
- if I use the toilet paper and then someone else uses the same toilet paper roll NO
- if I share the washing machine and dryer and then someone else uses them, or if I wash my clothes with someone elses clothes? NO
- if I share linens, for example if I sleep at a hotel then someone else sleeps in the same bed? NO
- if I share utensils or glasses? I hear HPV can infect the mouth too. NO
- if I swim in the sea or the pool and then sit on the plastic chair with my wet shorts and then someone else sits on the same plastic chair? NO
- what if I have to use a public bathroom and there is no soap? NO

Get the picture? Good!

Life is short, we all have HPV, it's rarely a problem. If you just can't let go of this, let's get you to a counselor who can help you work through it. I don't say that sarcastically at all; sometimes we have immense trouble letting go of improbable scenarios for a number of reasons: even highly super improbable doesn't mean absolutely 100% impossible, and we might have a strong need not to feel like we're "hurting" others. You don't deserve this kind of pressure.

Hope this helps. Be good to yourself.

Best,
Fredo

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Nov 04, 2009 7:22 am 

Joined: Sun Oct 18, 2009 8:13 am
Posts: 9
Fredo, thank you so much for your response. I just saw your post and it made me feel much better. In a few hours I have to catch a plane and I was already worrying about having to use the bathroom on the plane and not being able to wash my hands well enough to get rid of all HPV because of the tiny sinks, faucets and toilets planes have. Hopefully I wont worry as badly after reading your message and I will remind myself of your words if I start to worry. As for seeking counseling, I have been thinking about it too, but I think the counselor needs to have a very good understanding of HPV for me to trust his/her opinions. Do you happen to know where I can find a list of such people in the area I live? I have a feeling you understand the amount of pressure and stress this whole thing has been putting on me and I would really like to be able to make sure I am not / can not hurt anyone by giving them this virus. Thank you once again for your message. It really helped a lot.

athenalove, thanks a lot for your message and sharing your opinions. Like Fredo, you are recommending seeing a counselor too and I am starting to think that it really may be the best thing to do at this point.


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PostPosted: Fri Dec 25, 2009 8:56 am 

Joined: Sun Oct 18, 2009 8:13 am
Posts: 9
I have already given up sex completely in fear of spreading HPV, so I am not worried about spreading it through sex, but what precautions should I take to not spread HPV via NON-SEXUAL, casual ways in everyday life? (Such as to people in the household, family members, friends, people at work, etc.)


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PostPosted: Tue Dec 29, 2009 9:39 am 
Site Admin

Joined: Wed Oct 04, 2006 4:08 pm
Posts: 2122
Location: North Carolina
Hi again,

I don't think there are any common guidelines about HPV and casual transmission in workplace or home settings. The risk here can't be great. The only thing that comes to mind is if someone has active, external lesions it might be a good idea not to let someone use a dirty towel that dried warts, but if I understand correctly you have never been diagnosed with HPV, the partner in question has been out of the picture for at least three years, and there are no visible lesions.

Don't worry about utensils, showers, toilets, laundry, or anything like that. I'm concerned that you have given up sex over this common virus virtually all of us have and that, in the vast majority of cases, is harmless, silent, and cleared naturally. Almost any woman who would have sex with you either already has (or has had) HPV, or will simply move on to a new partner who does.

Hang in there!

Fredo

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PostPosted: Fri Jan 15, 2010 8:47 pm 

Joined: Sun Oct 18, 2009 8:13 am
Posts: 9
Dear Fredo,

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, :cry: 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.. :cry: 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.
Best wishes..

:D


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PostPosted: Tue Jan 19, 2010 10:41 am 
Site Admin

Joined: Wed Oct 04, 2006 4:08 pm
Posts: 2122
Location: North Carolina
Quote:
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."


Keep in mind that evidence of things like this is often "inconclusive" simply because no one has done any specific research in the area! It's similar to asking "Can I catch an illness from Martians landing in my backyard?" and the only truthful response can really be "Who knows?" There's no evidence or reason to think this would ever be an issue, of course, but it's also true there are no studies to prove "Aha! We know conclusively you can't get an infection from a Martian!"

Do consider seeking counseling. Even if the professional doesn't know squat about HPV, they may prescribe medicine that help. Even a generic family doctor/nurse can help identify if you would benefit from meds that help OCD-related issues. Worth a conversation to see if this might help you out!

Fredo

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PostPosted: Wed Feb 10, 2010 3:20 pm 

Joined: Sun Oct 18, 2009 8:13 am
Posts: 9
Thank you Fredo. I really appreciate all your help, support and patience.
:D


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PostPosted: Thu Feb 11, 2010 4:06 pm 
Site Admin

Joined: Wed Oct 04, 2006 4:08 pm
Posts: 2122
Location: North Carolina
Glad to do it!

Fredo :)

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