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Is HPV for life? watch

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    My girlfriend has just been diagnosed with HPV and she is adamant, she is certain that it is a life long virus that will always be there. Even if there are not symptoms or side effects (which there are not), it will always be there and 'dormant'. Her Doctor said this apparently.

    However, I have read various articles online that state a good immune system will clear the virus in a couple of years. She then said that only the symptoms are cleared but the virus itself remains. But none of the websites say that. They all say (even the NHS website) that most of the time the immune system clears up 'the infection'. This is exactly what the NHS website says, "There is currently no medical treatment for human papilloma virus (HPV) infections. However, most infections don’t cause any serious harm and are cleared by your immune system within two years.".

    The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website states that "HPV can cause serious health problems, including genital warts and certain cancers. There is no certain way to tell who will develop health problems from HPV and who will not. In most cases HPV goes away by itself before it causes any health problems, and most people who become infected with HPV do not even know they have it."

    Even now, after sending her that exact extract trying to show her that maybe it isn't for life she simply responded saying that "its still in you". So, does anyone know? She's getting all of this from her Doctor who said its there for life... but is it? Can the virus be completely cleared from your body after a couple of years or not? This is causing significant distress and so replies will be extremely appreciated.



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    Have a look at Giuliano et al Incidence and clearance of genital human papillomavirus infection in men (HIM): a cohort study, published in the Lancet in 2011.

    They looked at over a thousand men in the US, Mexico and Brazil. About 40 of them got HPV every month, especially the ones with lots of female partners (the figure mentioned is 50+ over the lifetime!) or male partners. But many of them stopped testing positive for HPV in 'about' a year or so. Interestingly, those with lots of female partners weren't as good at that (repeated infections?) and neither were the men in Brazil and Mexico (generally poorer / healthier?)

    The equivalent paper for women is behind a paywall, but they also found

    In the majority of individuals, HPV infections are transient and asymptomatic with most new infections resolving within 2 years. .. It is not clearly understood why HPV infections resolve in certain individuals and (don't) in others, but several factors are thought to play a role; including individual susceptibility, immune status and nutrition, .. co-infection with other sexually transmitted agents such as HIV, herpes simplex virus type 2 and Chlamydia trachomatis as well as viral characteristics such as HPV type, concomitant infection with other types, viral load, HPV variant and viral integration. .. Both HPV infection and cervical cancer are associated with a substantial economic burden.
    ... so again there's a 'people who are comparatively better off (and healthier?) do better at this' effect.
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    (Original post by unprinted)
    Have a look at Giuliano et al Incidence and clearance of genital human papillomavirus infection in men (HIM): a cohort study, published in the Lancet in 2011.

    They looked at over a thousand men in the US, Mexico and Brazil. About 40 of them got HPV every month, especially the ones with lots of female partners (the figure mentioned is 50+ over the lifetime!) or male partners. But many of them stopped testing positive for HPV in 'about' a year or so. Interestingly, those with lots of female partners weren't as good at that (repeated infections?) and neither were the men in Brazil and Mexico (generally poorer / healthier?)

    The equivalent paper for women is behind a paywall, but they also found



    ... so again there's a 'people who are comparatively better off (and healthier?) do better at this' effect.
    So would you say that my sex life is not over? This is causing serious strain on the relationship at the moment. :/
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    No, your sex life is not over. Which of you is being reluctant to be sexual together at the moment?

    It's not common for people to be tested for HPV in the UK - diagnosis is done on the basis of a visual inspection. Lots of people have, have had, or will have HPV and not get warts. If they do, there's no main recommendation for treatment: they get better, they stay the same, or they get worse more or less whatever you do, including waiting to see what happens. As you can see, they usually clear up anyway.
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    I was told by my doc that the HPV virus clears away in two years. It's just a case of getting rid of any warts. You don't take any medicine either way -- your body just get rids of it after a while. Your sex life is far from over!
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    (Original post by unprinted)
    No, your sex life is not over. Which of you is being reluctant to be sexual together at the moment?

    It's not common for people to be tested for HPV in the UK - diagnosis is done on the basis of a visual inspection. Lots of people have, have had, or will have HPV and not get warts. If they do, there's no main recommendation for treatment: they get better, they stay the same, or they get worse more or less whatever you do, including waiting to see what happens. As you can see, they usually clear up anyway.
    It is more myself who is reluctant. She was actually tested and women can easily be tested while there is no test for men. I gathered this much from research But she has no warts, or any symptoms. But I am also worried about the cancer concerns. Although she said her Doctor said that it was a "non-cancerous" strain (possible strain 6), I have read many times that oral sex can also cause oral cancer. She has said that she either got this from her previous partner (who had no warts) and that last time she had sex was 7 months ago, or she may have picked this up as a child due to abuse and an apparent "wart outbreak" at that time. I do not know if it was genital, she said the Doctors said it was something else and that would not possibly check down there at that time but I simply do not know enough about that as she hates talking about it. She never the less believes she is infected for life and I have seen several articles stating it is becoming a more popular theory that often the body beats the virus into submission, and is then dormant, but can still be passed on. Her Doctor said this and also said that the virus could strike again and potentially cause warts if the immune system was poor. Given that I am suffering from multiple health issues with nausea and headaches from yet an unknown cause... my immune system does not appear to be in great shape.

    Thanks for the replies though I appreciate it.
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    (Original post by jazzykinks)
    I was told by my doc that the HPV virus clears away in two years. It's just a case of getting rid of any warts. You don't take any medicine either way -- your body just get rids of it after a while. Your sex life is far from over!
    I've heard that too, but others say it always stays there and is merely dormant.
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    They are not really any different from warts on any other part of your body and are mainly a cosmetic issue than a health issue.
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    (Original post by Zylo)
    It is more myself who is reluctant. She was actually tested and women can easily be tested while there is no test for men. I gathered this much from research But she has no warts, or any symptoms.
    Hmm, how was she diagnosed then? The guidelines say "Visual examination which may be aided by a magnifying glass is the only recommended test for routine diagnosis" and they don't bother to routinely work out which of the dozens and dozens of strains of HPV it is. (6 is one of two usually responsible for genital warts.)

    But I am also worried about the cancer concerns. Although she said her Doctor said that it was a "non-cancerous" strain (possible strain 6), I have read many times that oral sex can also cause oral cancer.
    As I am sure you know, there are two vaccines against HPV. When they were approved, they were the most expensive vaccines available. As with the herpes scare that followed the introduction of treatments for that, the drug companies went for scare tactics to market them.

    It is no coincidence that you've seen stories about oral sex and oral cancer: the companies did a pile of studies looking for ways to market their vaccines. It turns out that they are no use to anyone with HPV (the companies would have still been opening the champagne if they could have shown any benefit!) but there may be a link between some strains of HPV - not the genital wart ones - and oral cancer. Ker-ching! That tobacco and alcohol are by far the biggest causes of oral cancer are ignored... and instead we get people like Michael Douglas apparently claiming his oral cancer was related to how many women he's gone down on, the little stud-muffin. (Again, the retraction of that claim got a lot less coverage.)

    Depending on your sexual history, it may be worthwhile having Gardasil, which does have a protective effect against 6. You will probably have to pay for it and, although it's not as expensive as it was, it's still not cheap bought individually.

    The most usual reason for repeat outbreaks after a number of years appears to be reinfection - a lot of people have HPV.
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    (Original post by unprinted)
    Hmm, how was she diagnosed then? The guidelines say "Visual examination which may be aided by a magnifying glass is the only recommended test for routine diagnosis" and they don't bother to routinely work out which of the dozens and dozens of strains of HPV it is. (6 is one of two usually responsible for genital warts.)



    As I am sure you know, there are two vaccines against HPV. When they were approved, they were the most expensive vaccines available. As with the herpes scare that followed the introduction of treatments for that, the drug companies went for scare tactics to market them.

    It is no coincidence that you've seen stories about oral sex and oral cancer: the companies did a pile of studies looking for ways to market their vaccines. It turns out that they are no use to anyone with HPV (the companies would have still been opening the champagne if they could have shown any benefit!) but there may be a link between some strains of HPV - not the genital wart ones - and oral cancer. Ker-ching! That tobacco and alcohol are by far the biggest causes of oral cancer are ignored... and instead we get people like Michael Douglas apparently claiming his oral cancer was related to how many women he's gone down on, the little stud-muffin. (Again, the retraction of that claim got a lot less coverage.)

    Depending on your sexual history, it may be worthwhile having Gardasil, which does have a protective effect against 6. You will probably have to pay for it and, although it's not as expensive as it was, it's still not cheap bought individually.

    The most usual reason for repeat outbreaks after a number of years appears to be reinfection - a lot of people have HPV.
    She was tested generally for STD's and to ascertain to whether she had HPV, they did something I believe was called a Pap and Smear test. While it appears to be true that visual examination is the only way to know for men, this test can be used for women. Her Doctor remarked also on a few scars which could have potentially have been warts in the past. And yeah I do understand that the chances of Cancer do seem to be tiny with other aspects of your life increasing the cancer risk much more greatly. But I'm just wondering, where do I go from here? I am certain though that I want to get a Doctors appointment for their opinion (well plus my own problems)...
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    What's going to have happened is that some slight abnormality is going to have shown up in her smear test, and they've gone 'Ah, probably HPV', because for a couple of sorts of results it almost always is.

    You go with her to her next appointment about this, to support her.

    You decide whether or not you want to use condoms for the next couple of years (these will reduce still further the chance of you being infected / you infecting her).

    You decide whether or not to use a barrier for oral.

    If either of you drink more than the recommended limits or smoke, you deal with that - both are far, far more dangerous to your health than HPV will ever be.

    I'm bisexual, and the only partner I know to have had genital warts / HPV is male. It caused him big distress, but I'm still delighted to go down on him without a condom.
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    (Original post by unprinted)
    I'm bisexual, and the only partner I know to have had genital warts / HPV is male. It caused him big distress, but I'm still delighted to go down on him without a condom.
    So you would say I could go down on her and she me without the risk of cancer? Or much of a risk of warts? Anyway thanks for your all your help. And to answer your previous question about vaccination and previous sexual history... well I have none lol. But I seriously hope this does not mean never having/giving oral.
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    (Original post by Zylo)
    So you would say I could go down on her and she me without the risk of cancer? Or much of a risk of warts? Anyway thanks for your all your help. And to answer your previous question about vaccination and previous sexual history... well I have none lol. But I seriously hope this does not mean never having/giving oral.
    To be honest, the "risk" of cancer probably changes as often as it does when they say certain foods do or don't give you cancer. But the gential warts HPV strain is different to a strain you would get around the mouth so you wouldn't pass it that way. The cancer risk is minimal.

    Genital warts has a lot of unecessary stigma around it. Unless you get absolutely covered in big warts, it really little more than a cosmetic problem. Would either of you be this bothered if it was a wart on your finger or a verruca on your foot?
 
 
 
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