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By Anonymous March 13, 2010 - 3:20pm
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Does having HPV and being only with one partner for over 22 years mean that the partner has cheated?

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HERWriter Guide

Hi Anon

Thanks for your question and I'm sorry you have had this diagnosis.

Your scenario does not necessarily mean that your partner has cheated. HPV can lie dormant for years and it can suddenly become active, often when the immune system is weak. Have you been sick or rundown recently?

But realistically, there is a chance that your partner has cheated and you should do some investigation to see if this may have happened. Many women do not know their partner has cheated until they themselves become infected with an STD/STI. You should also get tested for other possible infections.

Do you suspect in any way that cheating may have occured?

March 13, 2010 - 6:02pm
EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous (reply to Susan Cody)

I have just recovered from a major illness, but how could HPV be dormant when I have only ever had one partner my entire life--over 22 years?

This is why I do suspect that cheating has occurred. Please advise.

March 13, 2010 - 9:41pm
(reply to Anonymous)

Could you explain your question in more detail? Susan provided great information, saying that "yes, HPV can be dormant in your body", and I am not understanding your follow-up question.

Just to make sure--were you diagnosed with HPV 22 years ago, and this is the first time you are experiencing symptoms (or have received an abnormal pap smear result?).

March 14, 2010 - 6:31am
(reply to Alison Beaver)

Yes Alison, I have been in one relationship for the last 25 years (married for 22 years--I met my husband when I was 18 years old with no previous sexual/intimate relationships). I have had a major illness recently and two blood transfusions. I am back on track now healthwise, but when I went for my annual pap/HPV test last month--I was hospitalized the week prior to this, the pap was normal, but the HPV was positive. How long could HPV have been dormant, and could my husband have passed this on to me without having another outside sexual encounter?

March 14, 2010 - 4:20pm
(reply to Anon)

I think you are asking if your husband could have been diagnosed with HPV 22 years ago, and have it be dormant for this long? You still did not say if you have been diagnosed with HPV (you said "yes"...but then said you have not had a previous sexual relationship, so I will assume you mean "no, you have not been diagnosed with HPV, but you are wondering if your husband may have had HPV 22 years ago, and now has passed it to you?"

I am so sorry you have gone through so much hospitalization and treatments, but it is wonderful that you said you are back on track now. I can see why you are worried about how you would have a positive HPV test. Here is some information about HPV:
1. There are about 100+ different types/strains of HPV, 30 of which are sexually transmitted. That means about 70 strains that are not sexually transmitted.
2. There are non-sexually transmitted methods of spreading HPV from one person to another, including skin-to-skin contact with an infected person (hands, feet, mouth, etc).

We will conduct more research to verify if the non-sexual infection of HPV could result in a positive HPV test on your pap smear. I do think there is a risk if your husband had an active HPV wart on his mouth, and performed oral sex on you, that you could develop genital HPV.

We will be back in touch soon with more information, but I hope some of this was helpful to know that there are forms of HPV that are not sexually transmitted.

March 14, 2010 - 6:34pm
(reply to Alison Beaver)

Hello Alison,

Thank you for your response. Yes, I was tested positive for HPV, but had a negative pap smear. What I stated was I have been married for 22 years, with no previous relationships prior to marriage or during my marriage, just hospitalized and had two blood transfusions--never any oral sex with my husband, I have no warts, but wondered how I could have contracted this virus--my husband attests to no outside relationship, could it have been through my being exposed at the hospital? Shaking hands with other healthcare providers, who may have had the virus? I would like more information on how the virus is transmitted if not sexually--the 70 strains you referred to.

Thanks again.

March 15, 2010 - 8:22am
HERWriter Guide (reply to Anon)

Hi Anon

I did not realize that your husband has been your only partner.

In general, sexual activity is how HPV is passed- this can mean vaginal, rectal, oral kinds of sex.

But as Alison said, any kind of touch can spread it. We touch our mouths hundreds of times a day without even knowing it. According to cervicalcancer.org:

"The HPV type spread through non-sexual skin contact causes common skin warts. These can be flat or plantar warts that appear on the arms, hands, legs, and feet.
Although these types of HPV infections can often be inconvenient and unattractive, they are common and harmless. They don’t cause cancer and can be treated easily, often with over-the-counter medications. Even without treatment, these types of HPV infections will clear themselves within two years."

Getting HPV in your system by shaking hands with someone is rare, but possible.

It is very possible to have HPV and have a clear pap test. Sometimes they remain clear and sometimes cell changes occur. This is why regular pap tests are important, as well as HPV testing.

You may never know how you got HPV although if you show to have cancerous changes in your cervix, it's more likely that the virus you have has it's roots in sexual activity. Honestly - many of these viruses are sexually transmitted. I don't know of anyone who got HPV from non-sexual activity but this doesn't mean it cannot happen. You may stress yourself out trying to find the cause and I know the cause is important. However, it may end up being impossible to find out.

We still do not know exactly how many strains of HPV are out there. Cervicalcancer.org suggests there may be up to two hundred.

Are you your husband's only partner too? Did he have partners before you?

March 15, 2010 - 11:35am
(reply to Susan Cody)

Hi Susan,

Yes he did, but would that was too long ago to cause the virus to surface now, or is it?

March 15, 2010 - 12:25pm
HERWriter Guide (reply to Anon)

Not necessarily, Anon.

As we said, the virus can remain dormant for many years and surface when the immune system is down. So he may have contracted it from someone well before he ever met you. Realistically, he may have contracted it that way, or from a recent sexual encounter or you may have contracted it non-sexually.

Unfortunately, HPV is a large collection of tricky viruses that are very hard to trace back - and virtually impossible to find a definitive cause.

I'm sorry you are in this situation, I know it has to be a bit scary and emotionally upsetting for you.

What you need to do is make sure you keep your pap tests up to date and take care of your health. Fortunately, most cases of HPV exclude cancer as a symptom. But some do and monitoring should ensure you remain healthy.

We can't give you a direct answer to your questions, of course (I really wish we could), but hopefully with some further reading and a chat with your health care provider the next time you're in, you'll gain more understanding. I have no doubt this has been a shock to you. Are you feeling a little better about things?

March 15, 2010 - 12:52pm
(reply to Susan Cody)

Hello Susan,

Yes, I do feel a lot better having more knowledge. I have spoken with my healthcare provider, but of course her time is limited, that is why your website is a needed resource for healthcare issues. I appreciate the comments from both you and Alison.

March 15, 2010 - 1:12pm
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