This may be the area where you feel most vulnerable, and the lack of clear counseling messages can make this even more stressful, especially where relationships are concerned.
We regularly receive questions about what to tell either a current or future sex partner about HPV, for example.
The better educated you are about HPV, the easier it is to give partners the information needed to answer common questions. Talking to a Partner Before discussing things with a partner think about addressing any of your own questions or issues about HPV. This is to help establish your own comfort level and is where knowledge really does equal power. One of the most important aspects of coping with HPV, and helping partners develop a good understanding of the virus, is getting factual information and avoiding myths and hype.
It may also be a good idea to have resources to which you can direct a partner, so you know they turn to trustworthy sources for information. When talking to a partner, first remember that having HPV does not mean you have done anything wrong. As mentioned above, most sexually active people are likely to be exposed to HPV at some point, though most never have visible symptoms and remain unaware. Having HPV simply means you, like so many others, have been exposed to a common virus.
With a new relationship it may be good to date for a while and allow aspects of the relationship besides sex to develop as you get to know one another and become closer. Most sexually active couples share HPV until the immune response suppresses the infection. Partners who are sexually intimate only with each other are not likely to pass the same virus back and forth.
There are over types of HPV, about 30 of which are primarily associated with anogenital skin and sexual transmission. It can take weeks, months, or even years after exposure to HPV before symptoms develop or the virus is detected.
This is why it is usually impossible to determine when or from whom HPV may have been contracted. A recent diagnosis of HPV does not necessarily mean anyone has been unfaithful, even in a long-term relationship spanning years. The medical risks of genital HPV do exist and should not to be overlooked, but a key point is that for most people, HPV is a harmless infection that does not result in visible symptoms or health complications.
In some cases, HPV may cause cell changes that persist for years, and the cells can eventually become cancerous if not detected in time.
However, regular screening such as Pap tests can almost always find abnormalities so they can be treated, if needed, before cancer occurs. These cancers are not common and are very rare in industrialized nations, however. Testing options for HPV are limited and most cases are never diagnosed. Pap tests, for example are not specific screening for HPV; they are designed to detect abnormal cell changes of the cervix. HPV tests are approved for clinical use with women as 1 follow-up with unclear Pap test results or 2 as primary screening for those over age Screening for men usually consists of a visual inspection to look for lesions such as warts.
Some health care providers apply an acetic wash vinegar as a means of highlighting lesions, but this is not a specific test for HPV and may lead to overdiagnosis. Most cases of HPV, in either gender, remain unconfirmed clinically. However, studies show that in most cases a healthy immune system will be likely to clear, or suppress, HPV eventually.
Some cases may persist for years and result in recurrent lesions, but this is not the norm. The bottom line is that most who have genital HPV DNA detected in research studies eventually test negative, often within a year or two.
Still, HPV does not seem likely to always be active. NCCC is a program of Listen.