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National Cervical Cancer Coalition


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 Post subject: Unsure of what to do
PostPosted: Thu Mar 03, 2011 4:09 pm 

Joined: Thu Mar 03, 2011 3:52 pm
Posts: 1
Location: california
Yesterday my new boyfriend told me that he contracted HPV from his prior girlfriend. We have yet to have had any type of sex, as he lives a couple hours away. I'm visiting him in a couple weeks and of course had planned to have sex with him. After him telling me this, I'm not really sure of what to do. I really want to be with him, but I'm afraid of contracting HPV myself. He told me that he has been treated by his doctor but I'm not exactly sure how that works. My question here is, what would you do in my situation? How effective are condoms when it comes to preventing the transmission of HPV? How likely is it that I will contract HPV after having safe sex with him? Any advice would be much appreciated.


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 Post subject: Re: Unsure of what to do
PostPosted: Fri Mar 04, 2011 9:52 am 
Site Admin

Joined: Wed Oct 04, 2006 4:08 pm
Posts: 2122
Location: North Carolina
How effective are condoms when it comes to preventing the transmission of HPV?

The limitation with condoms and HPV is the skin they don't cover. The virus won't penetrate a latex condom, but HPV can be on genital-area skin for which a condom won't be effective (base of penis, scrotum, perianal area, etc.). In one study with college-age women at the University of Washington (Winer et al.), consistent condom use by their male partners was associated with a 70% reduction in HPV acquistion for the women. Your mileage may vary, of course, but that gives an idea that while condoms certainly reduce the risk of HPV transmission, they cannot eliminate it.

How likely is it that I will contract HPV after having safe sex with him?

There's no way to put an exact figure to the likelihood. HPV is usually cleared by the immune system over time; most cases of HPV become undetectable on DNA tests within 6-24 months. This doesn't mean for sure the virus cannot be transmitted, but many experts believe the risks of transmission probably diminish over time (again, this remains unproven).

Keep in mind that HPV is incredibly common, almost all sexually active people are estimated to have one or more HPV infections in their lifetimes. Most are never diagnosed, don't result in visible symptoms, and are cleared/suppressed naturally by the immune response. If you're not doing so, make sure you're going for regular Pap tests. If you do become sexually active with this partner and he had genital warts, just make sure your doc or nurse knows so they can examine you to see if any small lesions ever develop.

If you have any specific worries about HPV, post them here and we'll chat some more.

Best,
Fredo

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