[Question #2268] Hpv

46 months ago
3 months ago I had sex with a professional using a condom .  I'm 41 married and am concerned about HPV. I went to my normal doctor who I have been seeing for 20 years and I who I trust very much . He inspected me for warts and said everything looks good and sees no signs of anything and to come back in 4weeks. He has advised me that after 4 months I can be confident I was not infected . Is this accurate ? 
H. Hunter Handsfield, MD
H. Hunter Handsfield, MD
46 months ago
Welcome to the forum. Thanks for your question.

My first comment is to congratulate you on the wisdom of condom use for the event 3 months ago. Good move!

Several facts about may help reassure you -- although some of them make some folks more anxious!

First, new HPV infections are quite uncommon at your age. That's an important reason why the HPV vaccine, which is very effective, hasn't been studied and isn't recommended for people over age 26:  not enough new infections to make it worthwhile.

Second, a single sexual exposure, even without a condom, is unlikely to result in any STD. Even if your partner were infected, most STDs are inefficiently transmitted, i.e. most exposure don't result in transmission. And with a condom your risk is even lower.

Third (here's one that makes some people nervous), up to 50% of the population has HPV DNA detectable on their genitals at any point in time. That includes people your age, and it's equally common in people with and without multiple sex partners. You can be sure you have been infected in the past, and so has your wife. And either or both of you may still be carrying those infections. The presence of HPV DNA doesn't necessarily mean the infection is transmissible to partners. However, in the event you or your wife were ever to develop evidence of active infection -- warts, abnormal pap smear, etc -- it would never be possible to trace it to any particular sexual exposure or past partner.

Fourth, your doctor is pretty close to correct. But some warts don't show up for 6 months or even a year after exposure. But as I already said, the chance you caught HIV is low, and the chance it was a wart-causing type is even lower. (Roughly 10% of all HPV infections are due to two HPV types that cause 90% of genital warts.)

So all things considered, the chance of a new HPV infection is low, and the likelihood of one you or your wife would ever know about really miniscule. And the chance of a newly diagnosed infection being traceable to a new sexual partnership lower still.

In summary, I really wouldn't worry about it. I hope this information has been helpful. Let me know if anything isn't clear.

HHH, MD
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46 months ago
Are there any percentages for example : 70 % of people will develope warts at 2-4 months , 80 At 5 months , etc , etc 
H. Hunter Handsfield, MD
H. Hunter Handsfield, MD
46 months ago
Most people (60-80% as a rough estimate) infected with HPV6 and 11, the main wart causing types, develop visible warts. But estimates of when warts appear vary widely -- I can't give percents at particular times in the way you aks. Sorry. But as I said, these types are in a minority; most partners don't have them; and when the virus is present, transmission usually doesn't happen, especially with condoms. As my reply above makes clear, the chance you'll get warts from this event is extremely low. Do your best to stop worrying about it.---