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Skin tags vs Genital Warts
Nov 20, 1996

Sir, I recently tested negative for HIV 2 years after possible exposure. While examining my penis, I noticed a few small bumps along the sides of my penis. I'm not sure when they appeared, they don't itch and look like enlarged hair follicles. I've recently read about genital warts but also understand that these could be confused with skin tags or penile papules, w/c are harmless. Here's my questions: 1) How can one tell the difference between genital warts and regular skin tags? 2) How comes there's no HPV blood test? 3) If I have HPV, can I still have children? Thanks.

Response from Mr. Sowadsky

Hi.Thank you for your question.

Only your physician can determine if any growths that you have on your penis are genital warts, or another type of growth or infection. Until your physician tells you what it is that you have, it's best not to have any unprotected sex. This is because if it is genital warts that you have, you don't want to expose others to the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) that causes genital warts.

Not every STD is diagnosed with a blood test. Genital warts and HPV are diagnosed both by visual inspection by a trained health professional, and sometimes by a biopsy as well (looking at a piece of the growths under a microscope). HPV infection can sometimes be picked up when a woman is getting a pap smear.

Becoming infected with HPV will not affect your ability to have children in the future.

If you have any further questions, please feel free to call the Centers for Disease Control at 1.800.232.4636 (Nationwide). Rick Sowadsky MSPH CDS



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