[Question #282] Disclosure as a male of past partner's abnormal pap...

35 months ago
When I was with my ex GF around 2 years ago she had an abnormal PAP.  Doc said she had HPV and abnormal cell growth. We ended up splitting up later for unrelated reasons. That was  2 years ago. I don't have any symptoms, and don't really recall having any. I'm in my 20s and dating another woman. We have had sex and I care about her deeply. Should I mention it? 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 years ago, and having no way to test for it in males, is it worth telling my new partner? I feel very stressed about this and would feel horrible if she ever had issues because of me. Thanks for your time.

Edward W. Hook M.D.
Edward W. Hook M.D.
35 months ago

Welcome to our Forum.  I'll try to help.  I think you already have worked out the answer, which is that there is no need to discuss your prior partner's HPV-related dysplasia with your current partner.  I hope that some of what I am about to tell you is helpful in consolidating this line of reasoning.

1.  Scientific studies have repeatedly shown that within a year of a person's first sexual experience, on average, more than 50% of persons have HPV.  this is true even if one is monogamous.

2.  That you have been exposed (possibly) to HPV certainly does not mean that you have it.  Most such infections are self limited and resolve within a year of having them. 

3.  As you point out, there are no tests for HPV in men.

Thus, I see no reason to tell your new partner that a prior partner had HPV or dysplasia.  In fact, better to just assume that both you and your new partner have been exposed and not worry about it going forward. 

As a side note, you mention that you are in your 20s and I presume your new partner may be as well.  thus you may both be in  the age range for whom receipt of the highly effective HPV vaccine would have been recommended prior to age 26.  About half of women in the U.S. and a somewhat smaller proportion of men who have passed through the recommended age ranges n the past year have received the vaccine.  From your note I suspect you have not but it is fairly likely that your new partner has been vaccinated.  If so, her risk of acquiring the HPVs that cause dysplasia even if exposed is dramatically reduced, making the discussion you suggest even less crucial.

I hope my comments are helpful  EWH

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