[Question #1497] Recent HPV issue and long term consequences.

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90 months ago

I was recently diagnosed with HPV, as I had a few bumps on my penis that are currently being treated with cryotherapy by a dermatologist.  One has cleared up and two have seen marked improvement but required a second treatment.  I have been battling OCD and anxiety my whole life of 36 years, and this has only added to my stress and depression.  

My question is, once the warts have cleared up and I don't have any new occurrences for some time, do you think that it is necessary to inform future partners about my HPV occurrence.  I have been searching and seem to see different opinions on the matter (my dermatologist says there is always the chance it can be passed on and just said how you want to approach it with future partners is really up to me.  I consider myself a moral person and would not want to put someone at risk, but I am afraid that I will never have a relationship again without it ending in the girl running for the hills.  I would like to settle down and marry.  So I guess my question is, do you find it immoral or unethical to not disclose HPV if you have gone months or years without an occurrence of warts?

Thank you!
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Edward W. Hook M.D.
90 months ago

Welcome to our Forum.  As you no doubt know, your question will elicit another opinion but ultimately this is a decision you will need to make for yourself.  HPV infections and warts are a topic where there is much misunderstanding and, in my opinion, much inappropriate concern.  Here goes.

To say that everyone has HPV or genital warts is an overstatement but not by much. High quality science has shown repeatedly that within 3-4 years of the onset of sexual activity (even when reporting a single sex partner) over 80% of adults have genital HPV.  Many but not all of these people have warts but the majority do not have visible warts but are infected.   So, point 1 - virtually everyone is infected.  Point 2, over 99% of HPV infections do not lead to serious consequences such as cancer and even when infected persons are at risk for progression, there are great methods for detecting early infection and managing it before it caused serious. life threatening problems. Point 3- As I mentioned above, most persons with HPV do not know it but, if they go to the internet (as you may have) they read information which makes them feel stigmatized and dangerous to sexual partners - outcomes that are neither warranted or true.  This mis-understanding extends to people who are worried that they may have been exposed to HPV. 

Considering the[points above, both Dr. Handsfield and I feel strongly that while disclosure may be a good thing in any healthy relationship, it is by no means necessary or to be recommended in the early stages of a relationship.  As for your specific question, I would add that once warts have been treated and are no longer present, the risk for transmission of infection to others is also close to zero. 

Thus for all of the reasons cited above, as well as acknowledging your OCD, I do not see any reason to tell future sexual partners about your past HPV infection,  I hope you find these comments helpful.   EWH