Q: What is the role of the male partner in spreading HPV infections?
A: Men act as carriers of the HPV virus and need to be evaluated and treated in order to minimize the chance of infecting their partners.
Q: Why should the man be treated at all?
A: Men who are infected with HPV who have not been treated put their current p=and potential future uninfected partner(s) at risk of getting infected. Untreated genital warts on a man can also spread to new previously uninfected areas on him, which may necessitate more treatments to get the infection under control.
Q: Can the guy just wait to see if the genital warts go away on their own?
A: That would be tricky. The man continues to expose his partner(s) to an infection until the warts go away on their own and must use condoms until the infection has resolved. If the infection persists and does not spontaneously resolve, the man continues to be contagious and puts his partner(s) at risk for contracting the infection.
Q: How does a man give a woman HPV infection?
A: Most cases of HPV infections result from sexual contact. Men with HPV may have clearly evident genital warts or can be silent carriers of HPV who do not have any readily visible growths.
Q: I just started a new relationship. My former partner just contacted me and told me that they were recently diagnosed to have an HPV infection. What do I do?
A: You should go to your doctor in order to be evaluated. You have the highest chance of developing an HPV infection during the first 3-6 months after your last contact with your former partner.
Q: What do I do during that time?
A: You need to use condoms in order to protect your new partner. Your new partner may now also be at a higher risk for developing an HPV infection during the first few months of your relationship.
Q: This can be a disaster! Should I tell my partner?
A: You should be honest and inform your partner of this situation in order to decrease the chances of later accusations, bitterness and distrust which sometimes arise under similar circumstances. Your partner will appreciate the fat that you are being straightforward with them.
Q: Can I wait to see whether the new growths which I just saw will go way on their own?
A: You need to be evaluated by your doctor to see if they are genital warts, and until then to use protection at all times. Just because you see a new growth does not mean that it is a genital wart. There are many different types of growths which occur in the genital area, and many of them are benign and not contagious. You also need to e mindful of the fact that condoms do not protect against those areas not covered by the condom.
Q: How long do I wait to see whether they go away before deciding to go to see a doctor?
A: If they have not gone away on their own after 3-6 months you need to seriously consider going to a doctor and having these new growths evaluated.. The amount of time to wait is not definitive. It would be better to have them removed ASAP in order to minimize the chances of infecting a current or future partner(s) or spreading them to new previously uninfected areas on you.
Q: Do people wait?
A: Most people are generally uncomfortable with the thought of waiting once they learn that they may have a contagious condition.
Q: What do I do until the HPV is treated or until I know that they ar gone?
A: You need to do everything you can (including condoms and/or abstinence) in order to prevent spreading them to anybody else until you know that they are treated or gone.
Q: Do condoms help?
A: Condoms absolutely do help! Condoms have been shown to decrease the chances of getting an HPV infection by 70%. Condoms are not perfect, however, and only protect those areas that they cover.
Q: What areas would not be protected by condoms?
A: Areas that would not be covered by a condom and would not be protected include the base of the penis, the pubic area, the groin, thigh and lower abdomen.
Q: What does HPV look like?
A: HPV infections can be large rough-surfaced cauliflower-appearing bumps, small smooth-surfaced slightly elevated growths, flat brown or flesh-colored bumps or they can be microscopic and not readily visible to the naked eye.
Q: Can external genital warts spread when a person is not sexually active?
A: External genital warts can spread even when a person is not sexually active. The infection can spread to the normal skin around the genital wart that was not previously infected. The spread of the infection can be increased by any activity which involves friction or rubbing, like working out or wear tight fitting clothing.
Q: What should the guy do if he learns that his partner has a high risk strain or a cervical cancer?
A: The male partner should go to his doctor to be evaluated right away. He should not wait until he can easily see a growth, because growths with the high risk strains can be very small and difficult to detect. The man who is a carrier of high risk strains puts his partner(s) at risk for develop cancer of the penis.
Q: What is the nickname of men who are carriers of the high risk HPV strains?
A: Men who carry the high risk HPV strains have been nicknamed “Cancer Charlies.” The women who they come into contact with them have a statistically significantly greater chance of getting cervical cancer.
Q: Does the term Cancer Charlie refer only to heterosexual men who are carriers of high risk HPV who give it to their female partners?
A: The term Cancer Charlie is just as appropriate for gay men who are carriers of the high risk strains that can infect their male partners. Gay men have a 30x greater chance than heterosexual men of developing anal or rectal cancer, and they acquire this risk by coming into contact with gay Cancer Charlies.
Q: How common are HPV infection in men?
A: 50% – 80% of men who are sexually active in the United States have been exposed to an HPV infection by the time they are 50 yrs.
Q: Why do you see so much HPV in men?
A: Men have less of a resistance to HPV infections than women. Women create a greater number of antibodies to HPV than men and have a greater resistance to the infection.
Q: Will a person get more or fewer HPV infections as they get older?
A: The prevalence of HPV infections in woman decreases as they grow older, while the rate of infections in men remains constant as they get older.
Q: What does the term “Cancer Charlie” mean?
A: Cancer Charlie is a nickname originally given to men who are carriers of the high risk strains of HPV who transmit the infection to their female sexual partners, who subsequently will have a statistically significantly increased chance of developing cervical cancer and other HPV-related cancers.
Q: Does the term Cancer Charlie only apply to men having sex with women?
A: The term Cancer Charlie applies just as aptly to men who have sex with men (MSM). When a gay man who has an HPV infection or genital warts containing the high risk strains exposes his male partner to the infection, that partner is then at a higher risk of developing both genital warts as well as HPV-related cancers, which include cancers of the anus, rectum and/or the oropharynx.
Q: What made scientists first think that cervical cancer was caused by a sexually-transmitted infection?
A: Cervical cancer was observed to be rare in Orthodox Jewish and Muslim communities, where women were strictly monogamous . Cervical cancer was also observed to be rare in nuns, where sexual relations with men are prohibited.
Q: What were the early observations that led physicians to believe that an infectious agent might be the cause of cervical cancer?
A: A study done many years ago examined the health records of women who had died of cervical cancer. The researchers found that the second wives of men whose first wives had died from cancer of the cervix had a chance of developing a cancer of the cervix that was statistically more significant than would be normally expected. This study offered strong support to the thesis that cervical cancer may be caused by an infection.