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HPV question

Dec 27, 2001

12 years ago I was treated for external HPV warts. 10 years ago I had an abnormal pap due to HPV, but it resolved and 3 months later I had a normal pap. Normal paps every year since, 10+ normal paps since. No warts since, either. If no symptoms, is it still highly contagious? My husband has never had any symptoms and we always engage in unprotected sex, as we are in a monogomous relationship and HIV NEGATIVE. Is HPV like herpes, contagious when visible symptoms are present or is it ALWAYS passed on regarless?

Response from Mr. Kull

This is a difficult question to answer because the mechanics behind the transmission of HPV and herpes can be elusive. There does seem to be evidence that HPV and herpes can be transmitted even when lesions (warts, sores) are not present. This is referred to asymptomatic shedding; one's skin is "shedding" virus even though there are no apparent symptoms. Succesful treatment of genital warts may or may not remove all virus; this is difficult to know and the best thing you can do is continue to have regular screening.

It is much more likely that you would transmit HPV or herpes when symptoms ARE present. The fact that you have been asymptomatic poses a lesser risk of infection to your husband.


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