[Question #379] HPV

34 months ago
Hello, I spoke to Dr. Handsfield 2 weeks ago. He answered alot of questions for me but I read the internet and scared myself again. I was cleared of HPV a year ago.  I still get scared sometimes over how it is transmitted.  I have 2 younger children and i worry.  I read about epithial cells and they are located on the skin.  I worry if my underwear rubs over the pubic line after i go to the bathroom. That the skin sheds.  Can you explain where it is.
Edward W. Hook M.D.
Edward W. Hook M.D.
34 months ago

Welcome back to our Forum.  I'll try to help.  I did read your earlier interaction with Dr. Handsfield and agree with all that he said.  In fact, you might want to go back and re-read your earlier interchange- he said a lot and answered many questions.  I will try to build on what he said.

Your entire body is covered with epithelial cells- these are the cells that make up your skin and mucous membranes.  Different sorts of skin have different types of epithelial cells however and just as there are many types of epithelial cells, different HPV viruses tend to infect different epithelial cell types.  Thus the HPV that infects genital epithelial cells does not infect other types of skin, like the skin on your leg or hands.  As a result, and as Dr. Handsfield told you, non-sexual transmission of genital HPV types is extraordinarily rare and not something to worry about.  Further, at least until the HPV vaccine came along, virtually all adults were sure to get one or more types of HPV as part of normal life- this is not something to worry about and should just be accepted, just as you accept that you can expect to get other viral infections, like the common cold from time to time.  There is no realistic reason for you to be concerned about infecting your children with HPV through casual contact, from failure to wash your hands after you go to the bathroom (remember, it appears that you have cleared your prior HPV infection) or from them coming into contact with underclothes you have worn or bedclothes you have slept in. 

Finally, I note that you mentioned going to the internet for more information- bad idea.  While I am sure that most of what you can easily find there is well intended statements made there are also often quite misleading, taken out of context, or sometimes just plain wrong and have a strong tendency to raise unwarranted concerns.  Please stay off the internet.

I hope these comments are helpful to you.  EWH

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34 months ago
I hope I don't sound  crazy. I just want to get over this fear and move on. I was worried when I pulled my underwear up after using the bathroom that the top of it would hit the pubic line and HPV would be on me.  I lost an amazing man because I stopped having sex so I would not infect my kids. The fluids would be on me and I would touch them.  I am trying so hard to come to terms with this.  When I went to doctor in January they forgot to run the HPV teat. They said they would call the lab to run it. Can the specimen last a couple of days.
Edward W. Hook M.D.
Edward W. Hook M.D.
34 months ago

You are over reacting and over concerned about HPV.  Your children are not at risk from touching or casual contact HPV is not spread meaningfully through casual, non-sexual touching.

And yes, HPV testing can be added to a PAP smear specimen after it has been sent to the lab.  EWH

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34 months ago
Thank you to both of you for your insight.  I am just a mom that wants no harm to ever come to her children.  I have pushed a great guy away for fear of me somehow hurting my children. I would do anything to keep them safe.  I am afraid of sex and my kids coming into contact with fluids if my boyfriend spent the night.  They are 6 and always crawl into my bed at night.  So I guess I will be alone.  He knew my situation and could care less about it cause he loved me so much.  I know this ends my session.  I am a level headed woman and sometimes my brain runs away.
Edward W. Hook M.D.
Edward W. Hook M.D.
34 months ago

I completely understand your desire to protect your kids but as I said before (and as did Dr. Handsfield) avoiding relationships and others out of fear is an over reaction.  I have every confidence that you do everything you can to keep your kids safe (like teaching them to cross the street safely) but your fear of sex makes no more sense than not allowing your children to cross the street.  It simply is not realistic and can, as an over reaction, have its own negative effects.  I wish you the best. Take care. 

And you are correct, as the 3rd interchange, it is now time for this exchange to end.  EWH

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