[Question #7772] Past HPV and Present Disclosure After Exposure

 
2 days ago
Hello,

I am 28 (Male) who contracted HPV at 16. Had warts. Removed them by freezing. Haven't seen them come back since. I recently got out of a relationship in March of 2021 where my female partner had been battling clearing a high risk strain of HPV since December of 2019. We had unprotected sex regularly in February of 2021 where she went in for a new pap and confirmed she was still HPV positive at that time. We used condoms for sex regularly from July of 2020 through Jan of 2021. Fast forward to April of 2021. I am no longer in that relationship and had unprotected sex quite a few times with a new female partner recently. I did not disclose my prior HPV infection of warts, nor did I disclose that I had been exposed recently through my old partner. I have a few questions here.

1. Given that the warts never returned, and reading this forum, can I assume that my warts have cleared and that I am no longer infectious? If so, is disclosure necessary here?

2. For the high risk recent exposure, is it recommended to disclose this to new partners? Should I disclose to my most recent partner that she should be tested? If so, when should she be? Is it likely that since condoms do not prevent HPV entirely that I had already contracted HPV in my old relationship and cleared it within the 9 months of dating as HPV tends to not stay with men as long? Given that I am a male and can't test for HPV, is it worth disclosing at all prior to protected vs unprotected sex as we don't even know if I have an active infection? I have had very few sexual partners if this helps.
Edward W. Hook M.D.
Edward W. Hook M.D.
2 days ago
Welcome to the Forum.  Thanks for your question   I'll be glad to comment.  

1.  Your situation is a bit unusual.  HPV 16 most often does no cause visible genital warts, more than 90% of which are caused by HPV 6 or 11.  Are you sure your warts were due to HPV 16?  When visible warts are successfully treated and do not reappear after a period of three to six months, persons no longer should worry about recurrence or transmission to others.  Should a future partner be found to have HPV in the future, it is more likely that the infection was present as a result of some other prior exposure than acquired from their partner's previously successfully treated warts.  

2.  HPV is so very common in unvaccinated persons that disclosure is of little value.  Among persons who may have had any prior sexual partners, the best way to avoid HPV and its consequences is to be vaccinated with the HPV vaccine.  In general however, unlike most other STIs for which we urge clients to inform partners so that they can be tested and, if appropriate, treated, with HPV the very widespread nature of the infections make it, as a generalization, unnecessary to disclose past HPV infections.  In fact, while as a generalization, forthright disclosure is always the best policy, misunderstandings about HPV, how common the infection is, and how rare and readily manageable complications of infection are are all so very common that disclosure has the potential to lead to misunderstandings.  Again, vaccination is the key for avoiding these infections.

I hope that these comments are helpful.  EWH
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2 days ago
Hi Dr. Hook,

Apologies, but I believe you misunderstood my question here. 

I was 16 when i first got warts. Likely caused by the low risk strains you stated. I assume that this has now cleared and that I am no longer contagious so disclosure of this seems unnecessary. 

My second question in the original post is the one that I am most concerned about where I was recently and regularly exposed to an active infection of a high risk strain of HPV through my ex through unprotected sex. I am now currently sleeping with someone else unprotected where I did not disclose my most recent exposure. in this scenario and in future scenarios, since I am a male and there is no way to tell if i have HPV currently present, is disclosure of exposure necessary? 

Thanks!
Edward W. Hook M.D.
Edward W. Hook M.D.
2 days ago
My apologies if I misunderstood your question. Condoms offer partial but not complete protection against acquisition of HPV. The fact that you were exposed repeatedly to an HPV 16 infected partner makes it likely that you had acquired the infection at some point in time, even with regular condom use.. Most typically when people acquire HPV infections the infections resolve without therapy over a period of 6 to 12 months.  Thus, while you may well have acquired the infection in the past, I see no reason to address the fact that you have been previously exposed to HPV to new partners. I hope this clarification is helpful. EWH---