Non-sexual HPV Transmission
Q: After my pap smear showed abnormal cells, my doctor performed a colposcopy
and found "HPV effects." She insists that the disease was acquired
through sexual transmission, but my husband and I are monogamous childhood sweethearts
and neither of us has ever had another sexual partner. Is non-sexual transmission
of HPV possible?
Dr. Donnica: Non-sexual transmission of human papilloma virus (HPV)
is controversial, but definitely possible. One small study even showed that
exposure may occur via shaking hands with someone who has genital warts! [Sexually
Transmitted Infections 1999 Oct;75(5):317-9].
Another study [Scand J Infect Dis 1996;28(3):243-6] concluded that transmission
of genital HPV infection via floor or seat surfaces in public buildings, swimming
pools, or family homes is highly unlikely. It is documented that infected mothers
can pass HPV to their offspring in the course of a vaginal delivery [Rev
Med Virol 1999 Jan-Mar;9(1):15-21], but this would be detected in the linings
of the nose and mouth.
Your colposcopy results are not infallible. You should ask your doctor to do
a specific HPV test on you. Even if that is positive, as long as you and your
husband are confident that your relationship has been mutually monogamous, it
doesn't help matters to try to figure out how you may have been infected. What
matters most is to discuss a plan with your doctor about how you will monitor
your pap smears going forward.
Created: 5/16/2003  - Donnica Moore, M.D.