[Question #5655] HPV transmission

21 months ago
Hi Doctors,
 
I would like to have your opinion on the risks of HPV transmission in the following cases:
 
  1. Genitals rubbing with underwear on
  2. Hands-on-genitals
  3. Mouth closed on vulva (like a kiss, 1 sec, no fluid feeling)
I would appreciate a fairly technical answer because I have read a lot of contradictory things.
 
Thank you for your time.
Edward W. Hook M.D.
Edward W. Hook M.D.
21 months ago
Welcome to our Forum.  I'll do my best to address your questions however my sense is that you would like to have numerical probabilities of transmission in the situations you have mention- you will not get that.  HPV is a viral infection transmitted through DIRECT contact with transmission facilitated by friction and microscopic, undetectable abrasion.  In addition, the HPV has a characteristic called tropism which describes that the virus preferentially effects certain types of epithelial (skin cells).  As a result, the skin of the hands for instance is not vulnerable to infection by genital HPV types.  As for your specific questions:
1. HPV is not transmitted through material including underwear, even if the underwear becomes wet with genital secretions.
2.  Hand to genital contact does not typically result is transmission of HPV to the hands.
3.  HPV very, very rarely infects the lips.  Kiss-like contact of the lips with vulvar warts is unlikely to lead to infection.

I hope these comments are helpful to you. the best single way to reduce risk for HPV is to get vaccinated with the vaccine for HPV which is safe and highly effective.  EWH
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21 months ago
Thank you Doctor, your answers were helpful. 

I am particularly concerned with high-risk HPV. What you said about transmission in the 3 situations above is true for both low-risk and high-risk HPV? 

Kiss-like contact of the lips with vulvar warts is unlikely to lead to infections, and the same is true for high-risk HPV? Can high-risk HPV be deposited on the lips after the contact and then spread from lips to throat? 

Transmission of HPV from genitals to hands is unlikely, and so the same is true for subsequent spread of HPV to myself and/or to a third person through the hands? 

Do you believe the 3 situations above are at risk for any other STI? 

Many thanks 

Edward W. Hook M.D.
Edward W. Hook M.D.
21 months ago
Yes, my reply to all questions (including the "kiss-like" contact of the lips with the vulva)was correct for both the so-called high risk and low risk HPV types.  

HPV is spread by direct inoculation, thus for oral HPV infections, infection is not by spread from the lips to the throat.

Persons do not spread HPV on themselves or for others using their hands.

STIs are not transmitted by the sorts of contact you have described.  Please don't worry.  EWH
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21 months ago
Many thanks Doctor 
  
One last question: I have read that HPV can infect a man's throat during oral sex to a woman, but also that HPV is not spread through an exchange of bodily fluids. So how can HPV infect the oropharinx which does not come in direct contact with the vulva and/or vagina?  

Apologies for asking multiple questions on the same topic but I would like to be sure I understand the mechanism of transmission
Edward W. Hook M.D.
Edward W. Hook M.D.
21 months ago
The idea that HPV may infect a man's throat during oral sex assumes data that are not available and is theoretical.  HPV is spread primarily through direct inoculation and direct inoculation is rather uncommon during oral sex.  The precise mechanism by which  HPV is obtained in oral sex is unknown.  

This is my 3rd response to your questions.  Therefore, as per Forum guidelines, this thread will be closed shortly without further replies.  In closing the thread, I have the following summary  advice:
1.  I think you are worrying entirely too much about HPV.  Please read some of the many other interchanges we have had with other clients on this forum regarding this topics.
2.  Please avoid the internet.  Particularly on the topic of HPV much of what is there is misleading- either out of date, taken out of context, of just plain wrong.
3.  If you wish to avoid HPV, get vaccinated.  This is, without doubt, the single most effective means of avoiding HPV infections.

Take care.  EWH
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