Q: Do men who have an HPV infection also need to be monitored?
A: Men who had an HPV infection need to continue to be monitored because there is a high risk of recurrences with HPV infections. Men need to take precautions so that they do not infect or reinfect their current partners or a potential future previously uninfected partner.
Q: If two people are in a monogamous relationship and one of the individuals is recently diagnosed with an HPV infection, does this mean that their partner is cheating on them?
A: Nobody can tell for certain when they first got the infection. A person could have been infected years ago and their immune system adequately suppressed the virus so that it was able to stay in a dormant state. This very same person may now be tired, worn down, under stress, have a chronic illness or any one of a number of different factors that decrease their immunity and enables the virus to grow and proliferate. You simply cannot tell for certain when the infection first began.
Q: Wouldn’t the person know if they had been exposed to HPV?
A: Most people who have HPV do not have any signs or symptoms of an infection and are unaware of the fact that they have been infected. They may then unintentionally expose their current and/or future partner(s) to HPV, and these newly infected individuals may then unintentionally expose their current and/or future partners to HPV. This explains why HPV is present in such epidemic proportions.
Q: What is the most common way of spreading the infection from one person to another?
A: The most common means of transmission is from skin-to-skin transmission where there is asymptomatic shedding, where viral particles are spread from the infected partner to the uninfected partner.
Q: The fact that I got an HPV infection from my partner is very upsetting to me. Should I get out of the relationship?
A: Over 50% and in some instances up to 80% of sexually active people in the United States have been exposed to the HPV virus by the time they are 50 yo. You should both move on and be evaluated and if needed treated. The relationship should be preserved or severed based on the merits of the relationship, not on the basis of whether an almost ubiquitous infection has been identified.
Q: Does a person who had a previous HPV infection(s) build up an immunity against future HPV infections?
A: Women who are exposed to the HPV virus are able to produce more protective antibodies against HPV than men, and the number of HPV infections in women as they get older declines. The frequency of HPV infections after exposure in men stays constant, indicating that men are less likely than women to build up a resistance to the infection.
Q: Are men more likely to get recurrences of HPV infections than women?
A: Men get more frequent recurrences of HPV infections than women. The incidence of HPV infections in men remains constant because they are not able to mount as vigorous an antibody response to HPV as women.