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Can I get the same HPV virus twice?

By June 23, 2011 - 2:01pm
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I recently found out I have HPV, more specifically genital warts. From my understanding my body can clear the virus, but never completely get rid of it. If I reach the point to where the virus is clear can I get the same strain again? Or does my body build up an immunity to that particular strain?
Also, if the virus is cleared and can't be detected, can I still have genital wart "outbreaks"?

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(reply to Bonnie Diraimondo RN)

I am 30 years old. My family doctor diagnosed me visually, no colposcope, after she received the results of my pap smear. It was abnormal and she said something about LSIL which she explained puts me in a low risk group. However she has referred me to an OB/GYN just to be safe. I go to him next week.
Does this mean that if I come into contact with the strain that I already have I won't get it again? Or could it cause another a different outbreak of warts?
Also, I have read that once your warts are gone and you have a normal pap that the virus is not contagious anymore. Is that true?

June 27, 2011 - 9:03am
EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous (reply to Caty2011)

You can never presume that HPV is not contagious. The medical community used to believe that herpes was only contagious when a person had an outbreak. They now know this is not true and that it is contagious at any time. HPV, also a virus, usually has no symptoms and if involving the vagina (for example) one would not even know they had an active lesion.
Because HPV affects far more than just the cervix, a negative pap is not the end of the story. HPV can also affect the vulva, vagina and anus. In addition studies now show it to be the major cause, even more than smoking, for oral cancers.
As far as being reinfected, since you never get rid of the virus, technically you cannot get reinfected with the same strain. HPV goes dormant but can recur weeks, months or years later. I'm glad to see your family doctor is as educated as he is regarding HPV, many are not.
A gyn-oncologist is, in my opinion, preferrable to an ob-gyn because they are more familiar with dealing in these types of precancerous lesions as an ob-gyn has a practice of pregnant women to deal with as well. Someone solely dedicated to conditions such as this would again be more preferrable but that's my opinion (and the opinion of many women who have gone through high risk lesions and cancer resulting from HPV).
You can always have more than one strains of HPV. Some could be high risk, some low risk. So you may also have a strain which causes genital warts but have not had any symtoms yet. Low risk strains of HPV can cause effects on the cervix but do not progress to cancer. It is important that you have an HPV test performed to detect any high risk strains of the virus.
Please also refer to thehpvsupportnetwork.org for more information.

June 27, 2011 - 10:26am

Those are very good questions. According to the CDC, there are more than 40 HPV types that can infect the genital areas of males and females. In 90% of cases, the body’s immune system clears HPV naturally within two years. in cases when the body does not fight off HPV, HPV can cause visible changes in the form of genital warts, which can appear within weeks or months after sexual contact with an infected person. It is also possible to get more than one type of HPV. It is common for genital warts to recur after treatment, especially in the first 3 months after treatment. You can still pass the virus on to sex partners, even after the warts are treated. It is not known how long a person remains contagious after warts are treated. There is no cure for the virus. There are no available test to check a person's overall HPV status.

June 23, 2011 - 4:56pm
(reply to Maryann Gromisch RN)

So because I have genital warts, does that mean my body did not fight off the virus? Are the strains that cause GW harder for the immune system to fight? Also, I have heard that people can go extremely long periods of time without an outbreak and then warts pop again. Is there anyway to prevent this from happening? Thanks for all your help :)

June 27, 2011 - 8:47am
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