I have HPV?

Many women are taken by surprise when notified that their pap smear has come back that they have HPV – Human Papillomavirus. They know that it is associated with cervical cancer and not much more. Here are some answers to a few of the questions that we are commonly asked.

Written by: Tara Kraf, WHNP Frisco Women’s Health
Medical City Frisco (972) 668-8300

Get the Facts on HPV. Learn more about Gardasil at Gardasil.com

Health Concerns

Is HPV a sexually transmitted disease?

Yes, it is a sexually transmitted disease. It is, in fact, the most common sexually transmitted disease. It is so common that approximately 80% of women who are sexually active will acquire an HPV infection during their lifetime. It is most common between the ages of 15-33, with approximately 45% of females age 20-24 testing positive for HPV.

Do I need to be tested for other STD’s?

It’s possible you will need to be tested for other STDs if indicated. However, HPV is very common and not generally associated with other STDs.

Can you tell when I become infected, and who gave it to me?

No, you will probably not know exactly when you were infected. HPV can take years to become apparent.

I’ve been married for 20 years. Why is this showing up now? Has my partner been unfaithful?

No, this does not mean that anyone has been unfaithful. The incidence of the virus decreases after the age of 30 but many women in their 50’s will experience a reactivation of the virus. The reason for this is not completely understood. When the immune system becomes depressed for any reason, there can be a reactivation of the virus.

Can I get HPV if I’ve never had intercourse?

Yes, even if you have never had sex, you can get HPV. The virus is commonly spread during intercourse, but that is not the only way it can be transmitted from one person to another. HPV is transmitted by skin-to-skin contact, any contact with the genital area; this includes hand or oral contact as well. Because condoms do not cover the entire genital area, they reduce but do not completely protect against the virus.

Can I get HPV from a public bathroom?

No, you cannot get HPV from a toilet seat or touching a commonly-used object in public, swimming pools, or hot tubs, sharing utensils, or holding hands.

Can HPV be cured?

No, there is no cure for HPV. The virus will typically clear itself in about a year, but it can become dormant and reactivate even years later. About 20 % of women will have a persistent infection; this puts them at risk for developing a precancerous lesion, but does not mean that they will develop cancer, most never progress. The average time from HPV infection to cancer is at least 20 years.

Will the vaccine keep me from getting all types of HPV?

No, the vaccine will not keep you from getting all of the types of HPV; there are over 100 types of HPV, 40 of which infect the genital tract, 15 of those are considered carcinogenic. It will prevent the most common types associated with cervical cancer. There are two vaccines currently available. Gardasil is effective against four of the high-risk types of HPV, two of which cause 90% of genital warts and two which cause 70% of cervical cancers. The second vaccine, Cervarix, works against the two high-risk types that cause cervical cancer. We offer the Gardasil vaccine.

I have HPV. If I get the vaccine now, will it help?

No, getting the vaccine will not keep the virus from progressing. If you have already been exposed to the virus, getting the vaccine will not change the progression. This is why it is important to get the vaccine early before sexual contact occurs. In less than a year after their first sexual contact, 29 % of girls will test positive for one of the high-risk types. 12,000 women are diagnosed each year with cervical cancer in the U.S. This number can be reduced significantly with prevention and proper treatment.

My partner says he has been tested and does not have any STDs. Can I still get HPV?

Yes, you can still get HPV from a partner that says he has tested negative for STDs. There is no test that is approved for HPV screening in men. Most men, or women, will not have any symptoms unless they develop genital warts or have cervical changes. It can take years from the time of exposure for HPV to become apparent.

Why is the vaccine available for boys when they can’t get cervical cancer?

No, males cannot get cervical cancer, but they can get oral, anal, and throat cancer, as well as genital warts, from HPV. They also spread the virus to their partners. The vaccine is now recommended for boys age 11-21 and girls age 9-26. In areas where the vaccine has been widely used, the incidence of HPV positive pap smears has decreased by 56% and the incidence of genital warts has decreased from 1/100 to 1/10,000.

I’m in my 30’s, Can I still get the vaccine?

Yes, you can get the vaccine, but most women in their 30’s have already been exposed to the virus. Insurance will only cover the vaccine up to the age of 26 for women and 21 for men.

Can I protect myself from getting HPV?

Yes, there are ways to reduce your risk of HPV and cervical cancer. Avoid high- risk sexual behaviors, limit the number of partners, use condoms, eat a healthy diet, and exercise to boost your immune system and do not smoke.

I have HPV. I’m afraid I’m going to get cancer. What do I do now?

Yes, HPV is scary, but with proper screening and management, cervical cancer can be prevented. Women who get cervical cancer, for the most part, do not have proper follow up with pap smears and treatment for cervical changes prior to the development of cancer. If you still have questions regarding HPV or its management, please fill free to come in and let us answer your questions.

Office Hours

Monday: 8:30 AM-5:00 PM
Tuesday: 8:30 AM-5:00 PM
Wednesday: 8:30 AM-5:00 PM
Thursday: 8:30 AM-5:00 PM
Friday: 8:30 AM-1:00 PM
Saturday Closed
Sunday Closed

Get in touch

Call Us: 972-668-8300

5680 Frisco Square Blvd
Suite #2700
Frisco, TX 75034

Tel: 972-668-8300
Fax: 972-668-8301
Email: info@friscowomenshealth.com