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Re: Can HPV be contracted? How contagious is it?
Jan 12, 2003

You said. "The majority of folks who get HPV develop immunity to the infection and actually clear the virus."

I had anal warts over 20 years ago. They were treated with acid and never returned. Does this mean I cleared the virus?. Is there a way to find out? Am I still at a higher risk of anal cancer because I'm HIV+?

Response from Dr. Dezube

I did indeed say in a prior post that the "majority of folks who get HPV develop immunity to the infection and actually clear the virus". However, the studies, which demonstrated the development of immunity, were done mostly in HIV-negative people. I would expect that HIV+ folks would develop less immunity to HPV than HIV- people.

Let me, however, address your specific case. You had anal warts 20 years ago. It is indeed possible that you harbor the HPV virus. It is also possible that over the years you have developed immunity. There's really no great way to find out. Even if you could be tested for HPV antibodies and even if you were find to have developed HPV antibodies (a sign that you were fighting off the HPV), you could still be harboring HPV virus of a different strain.

So what would I suggest. Your chance of having active HPV disease is small, but not zero. An anal Pap smear every year or two years would not be a bad idea. If you have two consecutive normal anal Pap smears, then the chance of you being HPV-clear is even higher, and you could probably breath a little easier.

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