[Question #2938] Anal HPV and risk of Transmission

41 months ago
Hi there,

I am a guy and I was diagnosed with Anal Warts 1 year and eight months ago (3 months after having a receptive unprotected anal sex with a guy). We both did full STD test before the encounter (little did I know that HPV wasn't covered and there is no test for it for men). It was the only homosexual encounter in my life (talk about bad luck). 

I chose to delay treatment as I wasn't in any relationship. Anyways, after 3-4 months all the external warts disappeared.  There were at least 5-7 of them and they all disappeared. (I am not sure if I have any internal ones). 

Today, it has been around 1 year and 4 months since all the warts disappeared (again not sure if I ever had or still have intra-anal warts but not as far as I can tell) and I don't think they ever came back (I check regularly). Also, I never found any warts on other parts of my genitals despite excessive checking. 

I guess my question is as follow:

Having had the virus for 2 years now, no "apparent" warts for almost 1.5 years, and having only had anal warts (on my opening an not further than 0.5 cm from the opening), what is the risk of me transmitting the virus in a heterosexual encounter through my penis ? (assuming they never come close to my anus)

Edward W. Hook M.D.
Edward W. Hook M.D.
41 months ago
Welcome to our Forum. I'll be glad to provide some information.  Before I address your questions with regard to HPV, let me congratulate you on your approach to your safe sex.  For you and your partner to both get checked for STIs prior to testing was a great idea and it will keep you safe in terms of curable STIs and problems like HIV.  Keep doing this and it will be good for you.

As for your experience with HPV, much of what you have experienced is to be expected.  HPV is widespread and over 80% of sexually active adults will have HPV at some time.  Further, while a tiny proportion of HPV infections can go on to cause precancerous lesions the vast majority of such lesions are nothing more than a nuisance which do not require specific treatment.  Nearly all genital warts will go away by themselves without therapy, just as yours did.   Once warts have resolved in this way, there is no realistic reason to worry about the possibility of transmission to others.

You may or may not have penile HPV infection.  If you do, i would not worry about it.  Since the infection is so widespread there is little benefit to letting the possibility of infection change your interactions with others.   Regular health and sexual health check-ups will address any tiny risk that there might be for complications of undetected HPV infection. 

You do not mention your age but, if you are less than 26, getting the HPV vaccine might be a good idea. 

I hope these comments are helpful.  If there are further questions, you may ask your up to two follow-up questions for clarification.  EWH