[Question #4390] Worried about hpv

28 months ago
Hello doctor,

I am a so worried for a while now and I can't seem to put it out of my head.
A few years ago I was on vacation with some friends and I was laying in bed with underwear. A friend of mine walked by and he might accidently touched my ballsack with his finger (very brief, accidental touch, 1 - 2 seconds at most) because we were messing around for fun(my underwear was a bit short). I am not sure that he touched my skin, but I think he did.
Now, i didn't have a wart on the location where he accidently touched me, but i might had a little one on the top of my penis, so my hpv infection was active.

Is there any chance I passed on the virus (either low-risk or high-risk). Or should I put this event out of my head (this is giving me a lot of stress because I don't want to be responsible for any long-term complications in the future)

Thank you for your answer
Edward W. Hook M.D.
Edward W. Hook M.D.
28 months ago
Welcome to our Forum.  I'm sorry to continue to worry about a virtually no risk event which occurred several years ago.  While in science one can never say never, vast experience and a huge body of scientific literature indicates that HPV is almost never transmitted by transfer of the virus indirectly from person to person through touching or transfer of virus on a person's hands.  This really is not something that should concern you. In the case of the instance you have mentioned there are several additional factors which make this even less likely to be a problem.  They include:

1.  The scrotum is rarely infected by HPV- genital HPV viruses do not "like" that sort of skin, preferring the skin of the penis in men and vulva and vagina in women.
2.  HPV is not efficiently transferred through indirect contact of the sort mentioned above, instead being carried out by direct contact and accompanying friction which tend to help "work the virus into the skin".
3.  If your friend has ever been sexually active and has not had the HPV vaccine, he is likely to have been already infected with HPV -over 85% of sexually active, non-vaccinated adults do (and over 60% of monogamous sexually active adults).  If he has had the vaccine, he should be protected.

I hope these comments are helpful to you.  The episode you describe is not something to worry about.  EWH
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28 months ago
Thank you,

Does your reply also includes the fact that he might have touched his own genitals later that evening? (I don't know if this even happened)

I really want to focus on the positive in life, but it's very hard because the words "almost", "virtually", etc keep concerning me, (with all respect)  because in my mind it indicates that there is still a chance that it is possible (I also have a history of overthinking everything).

Did you ever had a case where the events that i described happened?

And to end, can you say that I can completly forget about this and move on with my life?

Thank you for your response


Edward W. Hook M.D.
Edward W. Hook M.D.
28 months ago
Yes, my reply does include the fact that he might have (probably did) touch his own genitals later in the evening, even if the time interval was quite short.

I'm sorry that the words "almost" and "virtually" are disconcerting to you but that is the nature of science and science-based answers. There is a misperception that science and our medical knowledge is absolute. That is wrong- we learn new information virtually (:)) every day - that's the nature of scientific inquiry.  Thus all scientific data should be considered as "almost always" correct.  OTOH, just as your chance of being struck be a meteorite falling form space is "virtually zero", it is not zero but it is not something to waste your time worrying about.  I would put the probability of HPV transmission in this was in about the same realm.  I have never seen such a case and again, urge you not to worry.  EWH

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28 months ago
Thanks again for your reply, this really helps me a lot.

I would like to ask one follow-up question. If I would have had a wart on the scrotum and the same event happened. Would this change anything in your view? (this is just out of curiosity)

Thank you.


Edward W. Hook M.D.
Edward W. Hook M.D.
28 months ago
No, a wart on your scrotum, or elsewhere for that matter would not change my advice.  This was really a virtually (sorry :)) no risk event. 

This is my 3rd and therefore final response to this thread. As per Forum Guidelines the thread will be closed shortly. EWH
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