[Question #4189] Genital warts HPV

Norman
29 months ago
Hello, 

Read on some websites that HPV Genital warts can be transmitted on animate objects( towels, massage tables, tanning beds, under wear, bedding, linen, toilet seats? Is this possible? 

If before getting a massage, the previous client has full-blown GW,  bodily fluid and the towel and linen is not probably removed or cleaned is there a chance of transmission if my bare pubic penis area is in the same area?
Edward W. Hook M.D.
Edward W. Hook M.D.
29 months ago
Welcome to our Forum and thanks for the opportunity to address this question.  Let me first provide the response and then so say a few words of explanation.  Transmission of HPV through contact with inanimate objects may occur but it is very uncommon and the vast, vast majority of genital HPV infections are transmitted through direct genital to genital contact and that while general hygiene and cleanup procedures greatly reduce any chance of infection.  

Now for the explanation.  There are no formal studies of HPV transmission by inanimate objects.  There are studies which demonstrate the presence of HPV DNA on inamimate objects but this is not the same as knowing the the DNA is part of a living, transmissible virus.  DNA is a very resilient material which may persist for long periods of time after viruses are no longer transmissible.  Thus detection of DNA is not the same as risk for infection.  We know that HPV is very widespread yet proof of transmission in non-sexual means is lacking except for occasional anecdotes.  Admittedly there are occasional HPV infections which are unexplained other than possible acquisition from inanimate objects but such cases are very rare.  If this were not the case HPV infection in young, non-sexually active children would be far more common than is the case.  Our interpretation of these data is that while transmission through contact with contaminated inanimate objects may occur rarely, it is a very rare event and that common, every day, common sense means of clean-up prevents nearly all risks for HPV infection under the conditions you describe.  An analogy is that being struck by lightening is very rare but it does occur and can be avoided through common sense measures.  I hope this perspective is helpful to you.  EWH
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Norman
29 months ago
Thank you
We noticed 2 to 3 lesions on the base of my penis shaft. 

Couple months later it was biopsied and came back GW. 

Long-term relationship (18 years) and both are faithful. We have an active sex life together oral and vaginal and prior to our marriage also had an active single sex life. 

Partner had Leep procedure to remove abnormal cells HPV 8 to 10 years ago(from pap)

Because we have had no sexual contact outside of our marriage  (no oral, vaginal, anal genital genital, hand to genital, kissing, etc) we are trying to figure out all possibilities in which this could have been transmitted We are stumped! 

What is more likely common from your experiences , HPV we all have liying dormant for that long and reappearing as GW.? 

Or contamination risks like a massage table not properly cleaned in the example above?
Edward W. Hook M.D.
Edward W. Hook M.D.
29 months ago
Thanks for the additional information.  It is far more likely that that GW you have experienced represent a longstanding infection which for some reason has reactivated.  This would be far more common than contamination from an inanimate object although, as explained above, I cannot rule it out completely.  If the warts were completely removed, that should take care of them and I would not worry further unless they recur. EWH
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Norman
29 months ago
Thank you,  
What are the odds/rates for two options-Dormancy v contaminated item?

How do I proceed w partner now, pertaining with sex?   
 
we hv had sex after initial discovery of lesion because I had no reason to believe lesion was HPV gw, as NO sexual contact had occurred outside of relationship.

Also, my hopes are for the dormancy, over contamination.

Please see Dr HHH from another question when he seems adamate that contamination is not a risk and that sexual contact is a must!   

Welcome back to the forum. but I'm sorry you found it necessary. Unfortunately, we can't help any further. Dr. Hook answered these questions in detail 3 weeks ago and there isn't anything to add. Nobody has ever been known to catch HPV or any other STDs because of poor hygiene in a doctor's office. You are not at risk from this and shouldn't be worried about it.

Best wishes--  HHH, MD

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29 days ago
I'm not worried about touching the pad.My new question is from sitting on the exam table with the white paper. If it wasn't pulled after the patient before me.  If I sat on something and my genitals touched the paper where someone with warts sat?  I appreciate your answers that's all I wanted to know.  Sitting in something naked is different from touching something with your hand. Especially since my genitals were burned from too hot water. Does that make a difference? Thank you guys for your time! 
H. Hunter Handsfield, MD
H. Hunter Handsfield, MD
28 days ago
The detail of contacting exam table paper is unimportant. The point is that nobody ever gets HPV from any kind of contact with the environment, in a doctor's office or anywhere else. For example, contact with toilet seats also is not a risk. And in fact "sitting on something" is no higher risk than hand-genital contact, perhaps even lower (with both being zero for practical purposes.) The only way to catch HPV in a doctor's office or exam room is to have sex there with an infected person.

Of course you could have HPV, assuming you have ever had sex. The large majority of sexually active people, even those who are monogamous with a single partner, get genital HPV, often several times. Therefore, someday you could have an abnormal pap smear, for example. But if that happens, it will not be from an infection caught from a medical examination or in a medical setting of any kind.

You fears are entirely misplaced. Do you have OCD? Are you germophobic? This level of fear about such things can be an early sign of serious mental health disability. I raise this issue out of compassion, not criticism. But if such fears, or other contacts with people or objects in the environment make you fearful of infection, and it's interfering with life, happiness, and relationships, I hope you'll consider counseling. But in the meantime, take Dr. Hook's and my word for it:  you are at absolutely no risk of HPV from being examined or treated in a professional office.
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Norman
29 months ago
Hello Dr 

Just waiting for answer

Regards
H. Hunter Handsfield, MD
H. Hunter Handsfield, MD
29 months ago
Dr. Hook will be off line for several days or so. So here are my two cents. There is no important difference or conflict between Dr. Hook's advice and my own. Throughout history, people with various STDs have been infected without seeming to be at risk, often leading to assumptions and beliefs about environmental exposure or other nonsexual means of transmission. 99% of the time it was just a question of not recognizing a risk, such as a spouse with other partners, or with asymptomatic infection. This has especially been common with HPV, with many cases of warts or abnormal pap smears showing up in people not seeming to be at risk, but who might have shared towels or clothing with other persons. But such claims are not evidence that such transmission actually occurs. When individual cases are explored in sufficient detail, a standard sexual risk almost always is found. We agree with each other that such transmission might be theoretically possible, since HPV can often be found in places like under the fingernails, or on towels or clothing. But if such contacts actually result in transmission, it is exceedingly rare -- and probably doesn't occur at all.

Threads normally are closed after two follow-up questions and replies, and this is your third -- so that concludes this discussion. Dr. Hook and I hope you found it helpful.
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