[Question #5399] HPV

22 months ago
Good Afternoon DRs. I want to start by thanking you all for the help you have provided me in the past.  I had a question regarding HPV. 

14 years ago I got genital warts from a boyfriend, at the time I was told they are for life. I went on to live my life by disclosing to each partner that I had HPV in the past. I was married 8 years and I don’t believe to have infected my ex husband. At least not visually. 

We have since divorced and a year ago I had a scare that the warts may have come back. Two drs said no they were just regular lumps and didn’t appear to be a wart and one just kind of shrugged said since I had it in the past that’s what it must be. I panicked as I have not had anything in years and he wasn’t willing to talk to me about it. I found a new dr office and was treated in one other area. 

Now really Convinced it came back I started to spiral. I found a wonderful RNP and have been seeing her since. She is not convinced that it came back even at all. She biopsied the other area the doctor treated when the bump came back after the treatment and all came back clear. 

So here are my questions. Does this virus clear your system? Or suppress it? Should I be concerned the warts may reoccur? My boyfriend knows I had HPV in the passed but I didn’t say it was GW. Is that being dishonest?

My last few paps were all clear and the HPV Test done with it.  Just so much confusing information out there. I’m worried about the ability to pass it to my boyfriend. 

Thank you 
Edward W. Hook M.D.
Edward W. Hook M.D.
22 months ago
Welcome to the Forum. Your questions touch upon an area of current ongoing research.  The short version is that nearly all HPV infections, including genital warts go away on their own over time and while ultrasensitive research tests can detect residual DNA, there is virtually continuing risk for transmission or recurrence.  Your clear PAP smears and HPV tests confirm that you do not have residual infection.  In our opinion here in this forum there is no pressing need for disclosure of your past HPV/GW infections to current or future partners.  I urge you not to worry about passing your past infection on to your BF and must point out that, should this unlikely event occur, it is just not a big deal.  

I would urge you to read other questions and answer that can easily be found on this forum to see that you are not alone in having had HPV in the past (most people do of have had HPV in the past) and that if you were, it is just not that big a deal.

I hope that these comments are helpful to you.  EWH
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22 months ago
Thank you so much! So being that I am unsure if my warts had returned last year and haven’t had any since. Is it safe to assume that I would not have a heavy enough viral load to transmit? I have a very well functioning immune system and was shocked that after all that time it would have come back. Does this happen frequently?  Or is it more likely that I didn’t have a reoccurance at all?

You stated there is virtually continuing risk of transmission or reoccurance. Does this mean before the 3-6 months you often suggest of last reoccurance.

This forum has helped me tremendously and I understand that HPV has become a way of life for people in my age category (37) . I just want to make sure to the best of my knowledge that I’m not jeopardizing my boyfriend. 
Edward W. Hook M.D.
Edward W. Hook M.D.
22 months ago
All to many doctors make the assumption that any "bump" or raised lesion in the genitalia is HPV has since the treatment is relatively easy to administer do so.  This also reflects that most physicians do not consider HPV a worrisome or troublesome health problem (please take a look at other posts on this site on the topic of HPV- you will find multiple statements from us basically agreeing- HPV is a nuisance infection which many people tend to get overly concerned about.  Virtually everyone has it and it rarely causes any harm and is easily managed with routine reproductive health care of the sort you describe (i.e. regular PAP smears and reproductive health checks).  

I apologize- the statement above "there is virtually continuing risk for transmission or recurrence" contained a typographical error and should have read "there is virtually NO continuing risk for transmission or recurrence".  Sorry to mislead you.  Please do not worry about transmitting HPV to your current or future sex partners.

I hope this clarification helps.  EWH
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22 months ago
Thank you so much for clarifying! I’m happy to know that the odds of me passing this to anyone would be slim to none. 

I suppose my last question is why is it that people can have hpv for years and not get genital warts right away but say five years down the line?  If the body clears the virus for most, how does that happen?

Thank you again for helping me better understand. I’m relieved and wish I would have known years ago this wasn’t a life sentence. 

Edward W. Hook M.D.
Edward W. Hook M.D.
22 months ago
The body clears HPV infections, including warts through its immune response to infection - i.e. the body "fights off" and controls the infections in the same way it fights off colds and respiratory tract infections.  

It would be most unusual for an HPV infection to be quiescent and then manifest itself as a wart years later.

I'm pleases that you have found my answers helpful.  As you know, we provide up to three responses per question.  Since this is my 3rd response, this completes this thread which will be closed later today.  Take care.  EWH
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