[Question #4713] Question regarding HPV

28 months ago
Hello, I am a male 22 years old, excuse my bad English it is not my first language I am curious and worried about HPV. I have read about it online and it says that most of the times it doesn't present symptoms, how am able to know if I have HPV if I don't have genital warts. Is there a way to find out if I have HPV if I don't present any  genital warts, the reason why I am asking this is that a person I met some weeks ago  which was clearly gay, nothing against homosexual people, but this guy gave me a handshake and if he had warts on his hands and he touched my skin am I at risk of being infected with HPV. I am very scared of HPV because most of the times it doesn't present symptoms so how I am able to be calm and know if I have HPV in an effective manner. I don't have any genital warts anywhere on my body but I am worried because is the most common STD and on the internet says most of the sexually active people will have it at least once in their lifetime. What it scares me about HPV is that it can spread by skin contact and it doesnt present symptoms, I will like to know if I was at risk of contracting HPV if that guy that gave me his hand had warts on his hands, this occurred like almost a month ago. How do I know if have actually HPV,  I don't want to spread it to the ones I love or my family.
H. Hunter Handsfield, MD
H. Hunter Handsfield, MD
28 months ago
Your English seems fine. It is easy to understand your questions.

You are unnecessarily frightened about HPV. Everybody gets at least one HPV infection and most people probably are infected several times. If you have had sex with three different partners in your life, you can be quite certain you have had HPV. Happily, most infections remain silent and are cleared up without ever causing any health problem. However, HPV, is not transmitted by hand-genital contact, only by vaginal or anal sex (or maybe sometimes by oral sex).

Most adults with apparent warts of the hands do not actually have warts, but other skin conditions. The person you are concerned about should see a doctor for professional diagnosis. but even if he really has warts, the types of HPV that cause hand warts generally do not infect the genital area. So that event was no risk

There are no accurate tests for HPV in the absence of symptoms. (Such tests are used in connection with pap smears in women, but even here the purpose is to help evaluate the pap smear results, not to detect asymptomatic HPV.)

You should speak to a doctor or clinic about being vaccinated to prevent infection with the most important HPV types. Otherwise, this really isn't something to be worried about. Having genital HPV is normal and expected in all humans.

I suggest you do some further research and reading about HPV. Two excellent resources are the American Sexual Health Association (sponsor of this forum) at http://www.ashasexualhealth.org/stdsstis/hpv/; and the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (www.cdc.gov/std). Most of the information should be reassuring and help reduce your fears about it.

Let me know if anything isn't clear.

HHH, MD
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28 months ago
Thanks for the response Doctor,

So hypothetically speaking if someone for example that has HPV gives me a handshake am I at risk of having HPV transmitted through a handshake by someone who has HPV, or HPV only transmits through sexual skin contact? Could you expand more on this " the types of HPV that cause hand warts generally do not infect the genital area. So that event was no risk". Do you think with your experience I was at risk on contacting HPV if guy only touched on a handshake?
H. Hunter Handsfield, MD
H. Hunter Handsfield, MD
28 months ago
The genital types of HPV are transmnitted only by sex, never by handshake or other contact with other persons.

Hand and foot warts are transmitted by saliva (probably) and maybe by nonsexual skin contact. The details actually are not known. However, such warts are VERY DIFFICULT to transmit in adults. You definitely are not at risk, even if that person had warts on his hands. And as I said above, that is unlikely. His hand bumps probably are not warts. Anyway, almost all humans acquire hand or foot warts in childhod, so you probably had warts as a child (even if you don't remember them). If so, you are immune to a new infection with hand/foot warts.

Why in heaven's name are you so worrieda bout HPV and warts? These are minor inconveniences, not important health risks.
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28 months ago
Thanks for the response Doctor,

I think I am obsessed over stds, I have developed an irrational fear over getting infected even though I haven’t had any type of sexual activity with any partners, I think I need to see a psychologist or  psychiatrist because I have developed irrational fears over stds even though I know I don’t have nothing  and I’ve had tested of all stds recently, and everything is ok.  Thanks for your explanation which really calms me down and makes me understand better about stds,  excuse my ignorance. 
H. Hunter Handsfield, MD
H. Hunter Handsfield, MD
28 months ago
I agree that this is an unhealthy phobia. I hope you are able to overcome it. If not, I strongly suggest professional counseling, as you suggest yourself.

That concludes this thread. I hope the discussion has been helpful.
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