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Gynecology

HPV - Reinfection

03/25/2009

Question:

Im in a committed relationship with my man. I got diagnosed with HPV before we got sexually active. My questions are should I be worried about passing HPV to him if we have sex with out a condom? And, should I be worried bout me passing it to him then him passing it to me again (being reinfected)? Should I stop having sex?

Answer:

HPV (human papillomavirus) is commonly transmitted during sexual intercourse, even when there are no evidence of genital warts. This is why it is so common. Although a woman usually clears the virus within a few years, there is no easy way to detect that it has been cleared. Because of that, your partner should wear a condom to reduce the risk of transmission. At some point, many couples are willing to accept the risk of transmission because they are in an exclusively monogamous longterm relationship. Before discontinuing the use of condoms, your partner should always know that you have been detected to have carried the HPV and be willing to accept that risk. In addition, he may also harbor a different strain of the virus and could pass it on to you. He wouldn't likely know it because men don't have routine screenings like the Pap smear that can detect HPV. So although you are known to have had the virus, he is just as likely, but not have been detected. As far as him passing it back and forth, it is not likely to happen with the same strain. Once you have cleared it, you have immunity from getting it again if he were to have contracted it from you.

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Response by:

Thomas  A deHoop, MD Thomas A deHoop, MD
Formerly Associate Professor of Clinical Obstetrics and Gynecology
Director, Medical Student Education
No longer associated