[Question #1522] Disclosing Past Partner's High Risk HPV as a MALE?

45 months ago
When I was with my ex GF around 2.5-3 years ago she had an abnormal PAP.  Doc said she had a high risk HPV strain and abnormal cell growth (no warts). This required the LEEP procedure and then all was well. We ended up splitting up later for unrelated reasons. That was 2.5-3 years ago. I don't have any symptoms, and don't really recall having any ever. I'm in my 20s and dating other women.  Should I mention it to future partners? I have mentioned it to previous partners but its SOOO awkward and not sure if it's necessary to put myself in such an uncomfortable situation. I know there is a school of thought that believes it's just a thing everyone gets eventually, and there is no point in mentioning it since statistically at our age, she has had it too. Realistically, I'm sure I had it while we were dating, but being 2.5-3 years ago, and having no way to test for it in males, is it worth telling my new partner? I just know I would feel insanely guilty if anyone ever had problems due to me. Any advice?
Edward W. Hook M.D.
Edward W. Hook M.D.
45 months ago

Welcome to the Forum.  As you point out, there are several camps related to notification of partners of past HPV infection or contact with a partner who is infected.  While I greatly appreciate your concern for others, we are in the group who feel that disclosure is not critical.  As a sexually active man you almost certainly have HPV.  This however should not concern you as virtually every other sexually active person who has not had the vaccine will be infected too.  This is part of the reason that we do not feel it is necessary for everyone who has had genital warts or HPV diagnosed to tell sexual partners- the infection is too common for anyone to think that they are not infected, of little consequence, and poorly understood (as your past experience has shown).  Further , if you had the infection two years ago, you have likely cleared it by now anyway.

My advice, is that this is not something to worry about.  If you do want to do something to protect future partners and are under 25, the one thing that you could do is to be sure that you have had the HPV vaccine.  While this will not effect past or existing infections, it will prevent future infections. some insurance companies will pay for it and if your have to pay for it yourself it would likely cause 300-400 dollars for the series of three injections. 

I do not mean to sound glib about this.  We strongly endorse HPV vaccination and regular sexual health check ups for both men and women but at this time, telling sexual partners that you may have been infected in the past is more than is necessary and as you point out, leads to awkward situations, mostly because of the lack of understanding related to this most common of all STIs.

I hope these comments are helpful. EWH

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