[Question #5947] HPV from Sexual Massage

19 months ago
Dear Experts,

I had an encounter with an erotic masseuse that has left me very concerned about risk of HPV. Basically during the massage the girl was masturbating me and I was touching her genital area. While touching her I left a significant bump in her genital area that I'm sure was a genital wart. After the massage I washed my hands thoroughly with soap before touching my own genital area again but I'm extremely concerned about the following:

a. Risk of wart causing HPV from her hand to my genitals if she had touched her own genital area prior to the massage
b. Risk of wart causing HPV being on my hands after the massage and now risk of infecting myself if I subsequently touch my own genital area

I've looked on the internet about this and a bit confused by what I've seen. Some information suggests that there is a risk of hand to genital infection of HPV but other sources say it's not a common thing. I also saw some information that said HPV DNA is often found on peoples hands but I'm not clear on whether this means my own hands could have been infected from this encounter or whether washing with soap would remove any risk of me infecting myself.

Please can you provide some guidance on this? I have regular partner and I'm very concerned about having sexual contact with her in case I could have contracted HPV from the masseuse hand or could have HPV on my hand from touching the masseuse that I might now infect myself or my partner with from touching. Are either of these possible risk?

H. Hunter Handsfield, MD
H. Hunter Handsfield, MD
19 months ago
Welcome to the forum. Thanks for your question.

There is no significant risk of HPV (or any other STD) from the kinds of contact you describe. There are hypothetical cases and claims of HPV transmission by hand-genital contact, but if such infections occur at all, they are exceedingly rare. Identification of HPV DNA under fingernails or elsewhere on the hands doesn't necessarily indicate live virus that can be transmitted. Genital HPV is very rarely detected in people who have not had intercourse.

The other thing to know is that everybody gets genital HPV (at least 90% of all humans) -- it's a normal, natural, expected consequence of having sex. Assuming you're not a virgin, you can assume you already have been infected; or you soon will be, given a normal sex life. And even if hand-gential contact or fingering were a risk, the chance a sommercial sex worker -- like your massage partner -- has HIV is not significantly higher than less sexually active women. Finally, any particular HPV infection rarely can be attributed to any particlar partner or exposure event.

The most important thing you can do to protect yourself and your future partners from an HPV health problem is to be immunized. The HPV vaccine is one of the most effective vaccines ever developed, and provides 100% protection against the 9 HPV types that together cause 90% of all health problems from HPV (cancer, pre-cancer, and warts). Discuss it with your doctor.

I hope these comments are helpful. Let me know if anything isn't clear.