[Question #5165] HPV/genital warts disclosure

23 months ago
Hello,

I was diagnosed with 2 small genital warts on the shaft of my penis. One was removed by doctor surgically and other was frozen off. The diagnosis was about 3 months ago, which is when the first wart was removed. I didn't see the second part at the time and had it removed a few weeks later.

I am now starting a new relatiomship.  Can I have sex with her?  Should I or do I need to disclose to my new partner about the past genitals warts?  We have only had oral sex without a condom and no vaginal sex.  There is no sign of any new warts.

Thank you.
Edward W. Hook M.D.
Edward W. Hook M.D.
23 months ago
Welcome to the Forum.  Your question is a familiar one which has been addressed on many  occasions on this Forum.  In addition to considering this reply, I highly recommend that you read some of the other threads found on the Forum in which both Dr. Handsfield and I have answered similar questions.  The issue of notifying new (or past) sexual partners about genital warts and HPV infection is a judgement call related to the strength of the relationship, the degree of understanding of the problem, and past history.  Unlike bacterial STIs for which we strongly urge clients to notify partners, we do not do so for warts HPV.  While disclosure is always a desirable practice, part of this is because the problem related to warts/HPV is that the problem is poorly understood and part of this is because among persons who have not received the HPV vaccine, the infection is so widespread that most sexually active persons already have the infection whether they know it or not so disclosure makes little difference.  Over 80% of sexually active adults will acquire HPV at some point in their lives and because the infection is so widespread, even monogamy does not make much of a difference.  Several other comments which may be helpful to you:

1.  If your warts have been gone for more than 3 months, while there is still a chance that they may recur, it becomes less likely, suggesting that future partners are not at risk for infection.
2.  In addition to preventing other STIs and pregnancy, condoms do reduce the risk for HPV transmission/acquisition.
3.  If your partner has had the HPV vaccine, their risk for infection by the types of HPV in the vaccine, which include the viruses that cause over 90% of visible warts is reduced by more than 98%.  

I hope this information is helpful in making your decision about disclosure.  As I mentioned above, please take a look at other related thread on this Forum.  EWH
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22 months ago
Hi Dr. Hook,

Thank you for your reply.  Is there a period of time after there have been no new warts where it is unnecessary to disclose to new partners? Or, will I have to disclose indefinitely?

Also, I wanted to add that this new partner is 29 y/o female and I am 30 y/o male.  Both of us have had many sexual partners in the past (15+ each).

Lastly, can genital warts/HPV be transferred if she performs oral sex on me?  Have I already put her at risk?

Thank you.
Edward W. Hook M.D.
Edward W. Hook M.D.
22 months ago
In the past we counseled clients that if there had not been a recurrence of warts within three months of successful treatment (i.e. the warts were no long visible).  More recent data is that while recurrences become uncommon after three months, there may be some that recur between three and six months. Thus I'd use six months as the cut off for being confident that you will not be transmitting infection onward.  

HPV can be acquired through oral sex.  As for genital infections however, I would imagine that you had both been exposed through sex with prior partners.  thus I see no reason to modify your sexual activities at this time because of your diagnosis several months ago.  EWH
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22 months ago
Hi Dr. Hook, thank you for all of your help. I let her know that I have HPV.  She received the vaccine when she was 16 (13 years ago). I think we are both comfortable in moving forward physically at this point.  If you have anything else to add, I am open ears. Thank you again!
Edward W. Hook M.D.
Edward W. Hook M.D.
22 months ago
Great.  I think your plan is a good one.  Take care.  EWH---