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Ask Dr. K
HPV and Genital Warts

QUESTION
I contracted the STI genital warts. I have had treatment and I haven't had any symptoms for at least 3 months. I have a new partner and used condoms as our form of contraception but if I have sex without a condom can I still give my partner the STI? Do I have the virus for life?

ANSWER
Genital warts are caused by human papilloma viruses. Human papilloma virus (HPV) is a family of over 100 different types of viruses. They are very common and spread very easily. Over 70% of sexually active adults will show evidence of a past HPV infection. I think of HPV like a cold virus, a genital cold. Most HPV infections are asymptomatic—people are infected and do not know it. Many HPV infections do go away on their own. However, some HPV infections persist, stay in the body, and can cause warts and abnormal PAP smears. Rarely permanent infections can lead to cancer of the cervix, penis or anus.

HPV is transmitted by skin-to-skin contact during sex. Regularly using condoms will greatly reduce the risk of getting and spreading the infection. Condom use will also make warts go away faster and abnormal Pap smears become normal faster. For more information on HPV, see http://www.sfcityclinic.org/stdbasics/hpv.asp.

To your health,
Dr. K


STD TRANSMISSION AND PREVENTION ADVICE
 
   
 
Last modified on Thursday, November 19, 2009.
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