[Question #2035] Risk question

48 months ago
I have hpv but not strains 16 18 or 45 is my partner still at risk for cancer
H. Hunter Handsfield, MD
H. Hunter Handsfield, MD
48 months ago
Welcome to the forum. Thanks for your succinct question. From your username, I assume you're female and will assume your partner is male. But let me know if otherwise.

HPV16, 18 and 45 together account for roughly 70-75% of cancers caused by HPV; up to fifteen or even 20 other types causet the rest. So you could be infected with a type that could be cancer causing. However, even with the highest risk types that (HPV16 and 18), the large majority of infected people do not develop cancer or pre-cancerous disease. However, this gets complicated, because the kind of test you had doesn't always detect all infections, so you could still be infected with types that didn't show up in your tests. Further, assuming you and your partner have had sex with other partners in the past, he could already been exposed to high risk HPV types that you don't necessarily have.

Your partner should be on the lookout for warts or other unexplained bumps or sores of the penis or genital area. If anything shows up (which could take months or even a couple of years), he should then be examined. But in the meantime, your HPV infections don't mean anything for him:  he does not need examination or testing, and the two of you should continue your normal sexual practices together. Assuming you have been together for a while, he has already been exposed and changing anything now (such as avoiding sex or using condoms) won't make any difference in his risks.

If either or both of you are under age 26, you should both get the HPV vaccine, if not previously vaccinated. It will protect you from any of 9 types, if not yet infected with them.

I hope this information is helpful. Let me know if anything isn't clear. Best wishes--  

HHH, MD


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48 months ago
We have only been together once and are too old for hpv vaccine. My primary cincern us oral cancer  are there specufic strains that cause oral cancer.  I do not have warts
H. Hunter Handsfield, MD
H. Hunter Handsfield, MD
48 months ago
HPV16 is almost the only type that causes certain oral (throat) cancers; only very rarely caused by other types of HPV. And HPV16 is among the most common of all HPV types, so since you and your partner apparently are on the mature side of life, and presumably have had a number of other sex partners in your lives, it's a fair bet you've already been infected with HPV16. Anyway, even in people with oral HPV16, a very tiny proportion will get throat cancer from it. Cases occur in only about 10,000 people per year, compared with millions of oral HPV16 infections. It remains a rare cancer -- far less common that the cancers we all need to be more worried about, like breast, colon, lung, prostate, etc. Truly, neither you nor your partner should have any worries about this whatsoever.

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48 months ago
Thank you so much.   I havent told him yet i have it. Would it be unreasonable not to tell him. I feel feel like he would worry more than necessary 
H. Hunter Handsfield, MD
H. Hunter Handsfield, MD
48 months ago
That's a tough one. From a strictly medical/risk perspective, there is no need to inform your partner of your test result. His risk of an important health outcome is exceedingly low, and most infections in men remain silent and he would never know; and in the event he someday learns he has HPV, it will be virtually impossible for him to know when or from whom he acquired it. (Over 90% of all persons have genital HPV at one time or another.) On the other hand, if he has been reading media stories or is otherwise concerned about HPV, he might expect to be informed, even if his risk is very low -- and perhaps disappointed, or overtly upset if he later learns of your infection and had not been informed. On balance, probably most people in your situation should inform their partners. The nature of your relationship, especially the prospects for it to become committed and ongoing, also might factor in.

On balance, I suspect inforning your partner might be the best option. But it's not a black and white issue, and one size doesn't fit all. So you'll have to make your own decision, about whether to tell and, if so, when and how. (Dinner with wine and flowers might be considered....)
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