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Sexually Transmitted Diseases Guide

Rosa Cabrera RN

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ask: I have recently been told that I have an atypical cell count which is HPV and could lead to cervical cancer. They said it had nothing to do with STD's or anything like that. Can I still have sex or will it keep my count off, should I remain abstinant?

By Anonymous
 
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They say to not worry because within 6 months when I go and get rechecked it should clear up on its own. I met a new fellow and just want to know how to play this game. I have never had these issues and am not sure if being sexually active will stimulate and make this worse or what.

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Susan Cody HERWriter Guide

Hi Anon

Thanks for your question and welcome!

I am concerned that your doctors have given you incorrect information or that you may have interpreted it incorrectly. HPV is the Human Papilloma Virus. A virus (in human terms) is something that is spread from one person to another so that if you have this virus, you CAN spread it to someone. A virus is infectious, meaning it is spread from one to another. So if you are HPV+, then you can spread it to a man if you have skin to skin contact with him. This means by having sex (oral, vaginal, anal) or just by being naked and your skin/genitals touching each other. So please don't consider yourself "free" of this virus. There is no "cure" so it can remain in your system for life, even if you never have any symptoms. For most people, it remains dormant. For others, it can lead to cervical, rectal, oral, facial or head cancers. I don't say this to scare you, just to let you know what HPV is, how it can be transmitted, and the possible outcomes.

Wearing a condom helps a lot but since HPV is spread via the skin (as opposed to body fluids) condoms are helpful but not enough to ensure there will be no spread.

I think it's a good idea to talk to your doctors again because I think you have been misinformed. You should also tell your boyfriend about this before having sex with him so he can make his own choices. And always use protection - this also helps against other STDs/STIs and pregnancy!

Additionally, please read this very informative article here: http://www.empowher.com/headache/content/hpv-how-understanding-acronym-c...

Let us know if you have additional questions!
~Susan

May 2, 2011 - 1:08pm
Bonnie Diraimondo RN (reply to Susan Cody)

Just for clarification, HPV causes anal (not rectal) cancer. The rectum and anus are separated by a transition zone and the rectum consists of glandular tcells as opposed to squamous cells. HPV does not transition to the rectum as it would then be considered colon cancer. Also in addition to skin to skin contact, HPV can also be transmitted via mucous membranes such as those inside the vagina, anus and the mouth. It has indeed been found in body fluids such as seminal fluid, urine, saliva and also in moisture droplets cultivated from women's panties. There is concern for foamite (inanimat object) transmission such as a finger or sex toys etc.
I too am concrned about nothing having been said by your doctor though I find this is not uncommon. You should contact your doctors office to discuss this and also about getting the HPV vaccine if you are under 27. Do NOT let the doctor tell you that you cannot get the vaccine because you are HPV positive, this is untrue. You should be regularly followed with Pap and HPV tests depending on your age and possibly colposcopy should your HPV persist. There is no way to determin from whom you got HPV as it has no symtoms usually and can remain dormant for months and even years before showing up. It is important to inform any partner(s) you may have been with about their potential exposure.

July 14, 2011 - 9:58am
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