[Question #7467] Concern Regarding possible HPV transmission to my son

4 months ago
I am a 39 year old woman and was diagnosed with genital warts in 2015.  I have a 9 year old son.  At the time of my diagnosis my son was approximately 4 years old.  Beginning about a year ago or so my son periodically has a "burning" sensation in his abdomen while urinating.  I assume this is some sort of intermittent bladder pain.  Some times it is frequent and then some days it doesn't happen at all.  His pediatrician did a urinalysis and urine culture.  Both negative/unremarkable.  He also had a normal renal and bladder ultrasound.  We then went to a pediatric urologist who examined him and did not note any external abnormalities.  He felt that my son's clinical signs were possibly due to his at the time very poor drinking habits and maybe not drinking enough water or being well hydrated enough and told us to follow up at the end of 4th grade this year if it is still happening.  I did not tell the pediatric urologist about my prior genital wart diagnosis because I was terrified he would assume a possibility of sexual abuse.  I am terrified that I may have prior transmitted my HPV to my son around 2015 if I bathed him or helped him wipe himself.  Before my genital wart diagnosis I am ashamed to say I was not always diligent about washing may hands after going to the bathroom etc.  Now I am diligent about it obviously and wash all our things separate.  I live in severe anxiety and fear that back around 2015 before I was more careful that I might have given my son HPV while caring for him via bathing and helping with the toilet (he was already potty trained so no diapers).  I read there are some rare cases where HPV can be isolated and in the bladder and manifest with dysuria, frequency, etc.  I also read these cases are very rare and usually in immunosuppressed people.  I am writing to you to try to allay my shame, fear, and anxiety that I basically gave my son the atypical manifestation of HPV (isola via poor hand hygiene while caring for him when he was younger, t
Edward W. Hook M.D.
Edward W. Hook M.D.
4 months ago

Thanks for your question and welcome to the Forum.  I'll do my best to help.  Your question is a relatively common one and, as might be expected, is often on the mind of parents caring for small children.  I wish I could tell you that inadvertent transmission through transfer of infectious material never occurs but in science as well learn more and more we learn that strange things happen, although they tend to be extraordinarily rare.  With HPV (as well as other STIs), the risk for transmission through touching or transfer of infectious material from person to person on unwashed hands is so rare that we can say with comfort that for practical purposes, there is no risk to your son from bathing him or having touched him without washing your hands. 

I am completely confident that your son's is NOT a manifestation of HPV infection.  Thus there is no reason to share your own personal history with the urologist.

Further and again, I want to emphasize to you that the likelihood of you having transmitted HPV to him an the context of caring for him as an infant is far less likely than your likelihood of being struck by lightening.  Please don't worry.  EWH

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