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Human Papilloma Virus (HPV)

Q: I've been recently diagnosed with cervical dysplasia and was told after asking, that I have HPV. My son's FORMER girlfriend has the same diagnosis. Do my husband and son need to be tested? My son is concerned about infecting a future partner? We are confused!


Dr. Donnica: This is a very difficult issue and I'm afraid that there is no medical consensus about the "right" answer here. We do know that HPV (human papilloma virus) is sexually transmitted and that regular condom use will reduce transmission (although not 100%).

There are currently no tests readily available which adequately detect HPV in men who have absolutely no symptoms or signs of infection. The diagnosis of HPV in men is usually made by the visualization of external genital warts or by the assumption that they are "infected" if a long-term sexual partner of theirs is infected. There is also no treatment or "cure" for HPV itself, only for the symptoms of HPV infection. In the case of you and your husband, we also don't know if further unprotected intercourse between you will affect your level of being infected; most doctors would agree that you should have more frequent Pap smears, but otherwise don't need to practice "safe sex" with your husband. In your son's case, he may want to consult his physician to see if testing at this point is worthwhile. Most doctors would probably recommend that he use condoms with any current or future sexual partners unless he plans to become a father. In that case, he and his partner at that time will need to have a frank discussion with their doctor about the level of risk involved and what kind of testing can be offered to each of them.

Created: 4/17/2003  -  Donnica Moore, M.D.

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