[Question #6887] #6820 follow up

9 months ago
Hello,

I just wanted to follow up. I realize this site frowns upon “anxious” follow up questions, but this is short. In regards to genital warts, is the virus localized to just the area where the warts are/were? Or is the virus on your entire genital area? I am asking because im worried about possible spreading (I realize what I had probably wasn’t GW, but still). In reading other inquiries, it sounds like GW are spread through skin-skin contact...is that wart to skin contact or can you be asymptomatic (no warts on penis) and still have the GW virus living on your penis and not know? Thanks for all you do
H. Hunter Handsfield, MD
H. Hunter Handsfield, MD
9 months ago
Thank you for your continuing confidence in our services. These are reasonable questions.

HPV infections should be viewed like the proverbial iceberg:  the visibly infected sites are the tip, but the infecion is more widespread. People with genital warts generally are believed to have more widspread infection, and people with HPV (with or without visible warts) probably can transmit HPV from entirely normal appearing penile skin. Whether sites without visible warts have similar amounts of virus or are as likely to transmit infection isn't known, but clearly there is a potential for it.

Yes, HPV is transmitted by skin-to-skin contact. But that doesn't mean casual or brief skin contact. Without the relatively intense and vigorous skin contact associated with sex, transmission is rare if it occurs at all.

I hope these comments are helpful. Thanks for the thanks.

HHH, MD
---
9 months ago
Thanks Doctor Handsfield,

One reply from me. On my previous inquiry you stated “ But if they were warts, apparently they're now gone. What's the big deal?“ IF they were (I understand you said they didn’t seem consistent with GW) the worry/big deal is that the virus is still present on my skin. I saw in a thread with doctor Hook he said once GW are removed (freezing, etc) the virus breaks down and you shouldn’t be considered contagious. Perhaps i misinterpreted. The fact I have not seen anything resembling GW on my actual penis is a positive and I will remain careful in the future.
H. Hunter Handsfield, MD
H. Hunter Handsfield, MD
9 months ago
I won't second guess what Dr. Hook wrote, especially not knowing the context of that reply. But it's a numbers guessing game with no data at all. The viral load undeoubtedly is highest in visible warts, and lower in visibly normal skin. The amount probably declines with time. In my clinic, I used to tell patients that they were likely home free (in terms of risk of transmitting to a partner) after 3-6 months, but it might be no risk a day later or not for a year or more.

I strongly suggest you stop searching this forum or anywhere else on the web about all this. Your anxieties are leading you to worrisome information and missing the reassuring info that also is there. It isn't worth it. And anyway, since everybody gets HPV -- and probably 30% of all people have genital warts at one time or another -- you're worrying about a normal, natural human condition. Even if you had confirmed warts, you shlouldn't be concerned about them. It's just mental masturbation.
---