[Question #3678] Giardisil vaccine completion after exposure but prior to possible infection

34 months ago
I have a question that is to clarify something I read on a prior question from someone else-
If you've been exposed to HPV by someone, but yet to have an infection from that exposure, and in between the time of exposure to possible infection the Giardisil vaccine has taken effect, would you be able to prevent that infection from that prior exposure from occurring? 

I read Dr. Hansfield answer a question from a gentlemen about exposure to HPV and preventing infection to the cancer causing strains. I believe I understood it as yes, you can avoid that infection if it was exposure but had not caused infection yet.... but I'm not entirely sure if I am understanding correctly. 

Dr. Hansfield answered with, "...Exposure doesn't mean infection, only that there has been contact with someone infected with HPV. in that event, immunization is 100% effective in preventing infection, if exposure is to one of the 9 HPV types covered by the vaccine. Once infected the vaccine has no effect."

Thank you very much.
Edward W. Hook M.D.
Edward W. Hook M.D.
33 months ago
Welcome back to the Forum. I note that this is your 3rd set of questions in less than a month and that you have already agreed with Dr. Handsfield that you may be overthinking this.  I agree.  I also agree with Dr. Handsfield that given your sexual history, you have likely had HPV already but that the vaccine-induced immunity will effectively prevent the 9 types of virus that are in the vaccine and which cause the large majority of HPV related genital cancer and visible warts.  Here on this forum, our stance is that for most people HPV infections are a nuisance and nothing more.  With that preamble I will now address your most recent questions:

The effect of the HPV vaccine depends on the time it takes a person to develop protective antibodies.  This varies from person to person but research now shows that after two vaccinations most people are protected.  In your case between your prior experiences/partners and the fact that by now you should have taken at least two doses of vaccine, I would expect you to be protected.  The 3rd dose if to consolidate your vaccine-related protective immunity.

Another part of his earlier answer that you are asking for clarification on is his statement that ."...Exposure doesn't mean infection...".  The biological fact is that most infectious diseases, including HPV are statistically unlikely to be acquired following a single exposure to an infected sex partner.  For instance, I am sure you have been around persons with colds and not caught their colds.  The same is true for STIs, including HPV.  The more one is exposed, the more likely infection becomes.

Hope this helps.  EWH
p.s.  In that you started a new thread rather than using your 3rd potential follow-up opportunity with Dr. Handsfield, I have closed your earlier thread.  I hope this is OK. It serves no purpose to have multiple threads open.  EWH
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33 months ago
Thank you for closing that thread, I just didn't want to over extend my questions per $ as I do appreciate your expertise, there's really not anyone else to ask without searching the internet, which is not helpful. 

I agree that I am overthinking it. I do have somewhat of a reason- I had a relationship with a younger girl we used condoms for the first 5 or 6 months, but then she had her annual OBGYN appointment and they tested her for STD's and everything was negative, but it came back a few weeks later that she tested (+) for HPV-16. This was alarming because we had sex 3-4x without a condom in those few weeks (they had told her everything was clear). That being said, everything you and Dr. Handsfield have said is that the research states that given my age in my 30's it is uncommon to get an infection? I guess I just wasn't sure if they assume we're not exposed anymore because we tend to have older partners? And since this was one of the most cancer causing varieties, I didn't know how common it was and if I had been exposed to it before and built up immunity to it. I have had a fair amount of partners in my younger years so i could have been exposed, I just can't be sure. So I guess my question is, does the over 26 infection not common situation still account for my current circumstances? 
I was hoping that, given my second hpv vaccine shot, it might be in time if an infection hadn't taken place. I admit that I found a place that tests as part of a research trial and they say the testing is as accurate as the women's, which i'm not sure how accurate that really is. So, if I did not have an infection yet from this prior example (assuming I would get one), it would be prevented with that vaccine- is that what you are saying? 
Everyone says not to worry and that we all have it..I don't think i would worry if it was HPV35 or something like that, but it's HPV-16 and the internet has scared the crap out of me and I feel like I just didn't know what to do. I didn't want to be irresponsible and pass to someone else. Thanks so much for taking the time to answer these questions, it is very much appreciated. I just want to get past this and stop worrying. 
Edward W. Hook M.D.
Edward W. Hook M.D.
33 months ago
I really would not worry about HPV 16.  Over a third of persons who have HPV have or have had HPV 16 yet it is not causing problems  I specifically recommend against testing for it.  You are vaccinated so, if you do not have it, you should be vaccine-protected at this time. OTOH, if you have it, so what- if you don't have lesions you have nothing to treat and the infection would likely disappear on its own over time.    If something obvious (this is not a suggestion for you to start checking yourself) appears in the future, have a dermatologist take a look.   Otherwise there is just nothing practical to do.  EWH. 
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33 months ago
" Over a third of persons who have HPV have or have had HPV 16 yet it is not causing problems"

Just to clarify, you're saying greater than 1/3 of the HPV population currently has or has had hpv-16 at some point, but it just doesn't cause any issues for them? So HPV-16 is that common out there? If I'm understanding you correctly, that really makes me feel a lot better. 
Edward W. Hook M.D.
Edward W. Hook M.D.
33 months ago
Yes, this is correct.  Recent population based surveys show that the prevalence of HPV varies with age.  In women 20-24 over 40% of women have HPV when tested once and estimates among unvaccinated persons is that up to the 30% of infected persons will have HPV 16.  Further, factor in to your thinking the fact that 90% of HPV infections will become undetectable within 2 years after the infections was first detected.  Thus, cumulatively it is reason to expect that somewhere in the neighborhood of 30% of adults will have had HPV.  Obviously the VAST majority of these infections do not progress to cancer. 

I really advise you to stop worrying about HPV so much.  As I said now, you are now vaccinated and even if you had it, there is nothing to do about it while you wait for it to go away.

This is my 3rd and final response to this se of questions.  Before I sign off however, I must strongly recommend that you need to cease these anxiety driven questions about HPV.  If you post again, it is likely that your question will be closed without a response and without refund of your posting fee.  I wish you the best.  EWH
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