[Question #4809] STI/HPV Risks from sex activities

25 months ago
Hi guys,

Thank you for running such a service to help many people who don't know about STIs and what to do about the anxiety of possibly getting any.
So I had protected sex with a sex worker and I kissed her with tongue and also fingered her for a little while. My concerns are many about HPV but please provide other general advice where possible. My questions are:

1. What are my chances of getting HPV from these activities or STIs in general?
2. If I fingered the sex worker but I washed my hands with general soap after for about 20 seconds, will there be STIs/HPV on or under my fingernails/finger?
3. If I used a condom but her genitals might have touched my genitals around the condom, will I get HPV?
4. After I came home, I touched items like the doorknob and some other areas of the house, will any HPV get on these items and if so, how long will they linger on such surfaces?

Thank you for helping me, I am super anxious right now waiting for your reply so please get back to me as soon as you can.
Edward W. Hook M.D.
Edward W. Hook M.D.
25 months ago
Welcome to the Forum.  I need to start this reply by challenging the idea that HPV should be a concern.  I presume that you have, at some time, been sexually active in the past.  This is important because many studies show that when persons become sexually active they acquire HPV very rapidly and that within three years of a person's first sexual encounter over 50% of persons, even those who have had only a single partner, have HPV.  It is now conservatively estimated that over 80% of sexually active Americans have or have had HPV.  Thus, our stance is that HPV is widespread in persons who have not been vaccinated for HPV and for persons who have HPV, it is rarely a threat to health and is a nuisance as long as they follow recommendations for sexual health maintenance and screening.  

With that preamble let me address your specific questions:
1. What are my chances of getting HPV from these activities or STIs in general?
HPV is most efficiently transmitted through direct sexual contact.  Kissing, masturbation and condom protected intercourse are all relatively low risk exposures for acquisition of HPV.  Most such exposures do not lead to infection although it is just not possible to provide specific per exposure estimates of risk.

2. If I fingered the sex worker but I washed my hands with general soap after for about 20 seconds, will there be STIs/HPV on or under my fingernails/finger?
No, hand washing would certainly remove any HPV which might (but was probably not) on your hands.

3. If I used a condom but her genitals might have touched my genitals around the condom, will I get HPV?
This was a low risk event.

4. After I came home, I touched items like the doorknob and some other areas of the house, will any HPV get on these items and if so, how long will they linger on such surfaces?
HPV is almost never transmitted trough contamination of inanimate objects such as door knobs.  this is not something to worry about

I hope these responses are helpful  Please don't worry about the events you have described.  EWH

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25 months ago
Oh thank you doctor. You are a life saver. Haven't slept in 2 days due to the anxiety and washing my hands too much.

One last thing, In terms even after I wash my hands, if I touch my face or body, will HPV spread to other parts of the body or does it stay in the genital region?

Sorry, anxiety is killing me and I need to know. Thanks


25 months ago
Oh and one last thing sorry, If I used body cream soap to wash my hands, will that be enough to remove hPV from hands if HPV was on it?
25 months ago
Is it also safe to touch my genitals and not get hpv on other body parts as well. Sorry last question I promise.
Edward W. Hook M.D.
Edward W. Hook M.D.
25 months ago
I think you are laboring under a misperception regarding how HPV is spread.  Genital HPV is almost never spread through direct or indirect non-genital contact.  Spread of HPV from person to person, or to different parts of an infected person's body through transfer on the hands is extraordinarily rare and should not worry you.  Similarly, spread of HPV though contamination of creams, soaps and lotions is just not a realistic concern.  

Finally, on a related note, the best thing a person can do to avoid HPV is to take the HPV vaccine which was recently approved for use here in the U.S. for persons up to age 45.  Once vaccinated, there is almost no reason for continuing concern about HPB.  EWH
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25 months ago
Ok cool. i dont think the HPV Vaccine is available in Australia but will take your advice and not worry about HPV after this one time. Sorry it was my first sexual encounter so I might of over worried.
Edward W. Hook M.D.
Edward W. Hook M.D.
25 months ago
Actually, the vaccine is widely available in Australia which has one of the most successful HPV vaccination programs on earth.  The rates of HPV and cervical cancer in Australia have been declining because of the success.  I do not know what the logistical barriers might be to obtaining the vaccine in Australia and they may vary depending on age but I am confident the vaccine is available.  I suggest you speak with experts at one of the sexual health clinics in Australia which are, in general, excellent.  

As this is my 3rd response to your questions, this will complete this thread which will be closed later today.  I hope the information I have provided has been helpful.  Take care.  EWH
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