[Question #7730] Specific about informing about HPV

1 months ago
Hello. 
I am a woman in her late 40s and I was treated for GWs caused by HPV 23 years ago. 
I have had no reoccurances and no issue current or recent diagnosis of low or high risk HPV.
I wonder how much information I should pass on to a potential intimate partner now? 
I have read the CDCs info. sheet for men on HPV but not sure if that's needed .  sometimes I feel the information is equivocal  for HPV

I am an honest person so I already put the information on a dating site for ppl with STDs.
How can or should I explain this to a potential intimate partner so they understand? 
Thank you in advance for your help . 
Edward W. Hook M.D.
Edward W. Hook M.D.
1 months ago
Welcome to the Forum and thanks for your question.  Thanks as well to your thoughtful approach to disclosure.   Acknowledging that opinions about HPV disclosure vary, I'll be glad to provide my own perspective which, FYI is an opinion shared by my partner on this site, Dr. Handsfield.  For most STIs, disclosure is always a good idea and the preferable action as it allows persons to discuss risks for infection, testing an steps to avoid transmission.  If there is an exception to this generalization however, it relates to HPV, particularly in your case.  The reason for this is several fold including that:

1. If your partners are sexually active, whether they know it or not (most do not), they likely have already had HPV.  Over 80% of unvaccinated, sexually active persons acquire HPV, most typically within a few years of sexual debut.  

2. Misunderstanding about HPV and its association with cancer is widespread and over reaction is all too common.  More than 95% of persons who acquire HPV have their own immune systems control the infection and suffer no consequence.  For those who may have changes related to HPV, they are typically readily managed through regular sexual health check-ups for women and by men who detect lesions.

3.  In your case, HPV 23 is a rare cause of genital warts (over 90% of visible warts are caused by HPV types 6 and 11). the potential of HPV 23 to progress is quite low, particularly after over 20 yeas of quiescence. The risk that your infection is still transmissible is vanishingly low.  

Based on these facts, I see little need for you to disclose that you had genital warts long ago.  Once again, if you are having an exchange of information with a present or potential partner, you can certainly say that you did and that doctors have reassured you that this long distant infection does not pose a meaningful risk to current partners.

I hope this perspective is helpful.  If there are additional questions, please feel free to use your up to two follow-ups for clarification.  EWH
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1 months ago
Thank you Dr. Hook for that thorough answer. Much appreciated! 
I have to offer a correction to my original question as I did not mean to suggest that I had GW from HPV23 ...i had GW from HPV (unknown type), 
23 years ago. I should have used a comma, sorry. 
I also tested positive  for high & low risk HPV about 22 years ago and was found positive. But thank God never had any pre or cancerous changes. Again that was 22 years ago so even though they told me I don't remember the types.
So I hope that clarifies my question.
I don't know if you all know how much this  expert resource is needed. I suffered for years with depression because of my diagnosis and the shame others in the STD support group and family & friends made me feel for having had GW.  I almost cried when I read your response..because even though a thoughtful doctor told me in college I wouldn't have to worry about it by the time I graduated (two years) I was worried and shamed for years after because others made me feel that way. I understand that was in part because of the lack of their understanding and mine. I say all that to say thank you for providing this service. 
Edward W. Hook M.D.
Edward W. Hook M.D.
1 months ago
Ah, thanks for the correction.  That however does not change my assessment.  For all practical purposed, visible genital warts are merely a nuisance.  The additional information about having both high and low risk (I dislike the designation "high risk" since so very few of these types co on to cause even PAP smear changes) HPVs over two decades ago.  

Thanks for your thanks as well.  Each time I hear of how the diagnosis of HPV has such unsettling reactions to the information that they have HPV (and we hear it lots on this site), it saddens me.  EWH
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