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Genital warts, chronic condition, new sexual partner, not recurring now. Chances of it being contagious ?

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Practicing since : 1996
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Hi I had genital warts about 3 years ago. How likely is it that I can pass these to a new partner or that I still have the virus. I have seen nothing for 3 years, there is a lot of conflicitng view im confused. I dont want to worry for the rest of my life.
Posted Tue, 17 Apr 2012 in Skin Hair and Nails
Answered by Dr. Bharat Chawda 7 hours later
Hi! ,

Thank you for posting the query,

Your question is a very good one and I'll try to provide you with some information even though there are no clear cut guide lines regarding the same in the literature.

I shall address your concern based on your current given information.

The below information are the guide line recommended by CDC(Centers for Disease control & prevention).

Genital warts (HPV) is the most common sexually transmitted virus in the United States. At least 50% of sexually active people will have genital HPV at some time in their lives.

HPV usually goes away on its own without causing any health problems.

Genital warts are not life threatening. If left untreated, genital warts might go away, stay the same, or grow in size or number. Genital warts can be transmitted to others even when no visible signs of warts are present, even after warts are treated.It is not known how long a person remains contagious after warts are treated.

Since genital warts are very contagious and the treatment is something like a blind procedure ,these lesions may recur also .They commonly recur after treatment, especially in the first 3 months.

HPV testing is unnecessary in sexual partners of persons with genital warts.

It is also recommended that persons with genital warts should inform current sex partner about the infection , because warts can be transmitted to other partner. In addition, they should refrain from sexual activity until the warts are gone or removed.

Genital warts are usually asymptomatic, but depending on the size and anatomic location, they can be painful or pruritic. It can be multiple or single depending upon ones immunity.

Correct and consistent male condom use can lower the chances of giving or getting genital warts, but such use is not fully protective, because HPV can infect areas that are not covered by a condom.So condom may just lower the chances of infection.So you should not expect condoms to fully protect against HPV.

There are vaccines which are approved for the age group 9 to 26 years which can protect against the HPV types that cause 90% of genital warts .This vaccine would reduce the likelihood of acquiring genital warts. But the vaccine is not routinely recommended for administration to males.

Diagnosis of genital warts is usually clinical, made by visual inspection.

In case there is a doubt in the diagnosis , application of 3%–5% acetic acid, which causes skin color to turn white, has been used by some providers to detect HPV(human papilloma virus) infected genital mucosa. However, acetic acid application is not a specific test for HPV infection. Therefore, the routine use of this procedure for screening purpose is not recommended.

Genital warts can be transmitted to others even when no visible signs of warts are present, even after warts are treated.And thus the virus may remain in the body after treatment . This means that you may still pass HPV to your sex partners

It is not known how long a person remains contagious after warts are treated.
It is also unclear whether informing subsequent sex partners about a past diagnosis of genital warts is beneficial to the health of those partners.

Available therapies for genital warts likely reduce, but probably do not eradicate, HPV infectivity.

Since you are also worried about the future ,I would like to say that HPV does not affect a woman’s fertility or ability to carry a pregnancy to term.

As you said you had infection 3 years back,I would like to know what treatment you had taken at that time.You also mentioned that you have not seen any clinical lesion since then ,which probably mean that you are free from the virus (though no body can be very sure).

I think you should just take life as it comes and not take the guilt that you are infecting your partner (since there is no other way to get cured of).Probably vaccine is what you can think of .I would advise you to consult a paediatrician or a physician too regarding the vaccine .These are the specialties who quite often give such vaccines.

Hope I have answered your query. Should you have additional concerns regarding this issue I would be happy to address them.

Dr.Bharat chawda
Above answer was peer-reviewed by
Follow-up: Genital warts, chronic condition, new sexual partner, not recurring now. Chances of it being contagious ? 12 hours later
Thank you for your response. At the time I had cryotherapy. I understand it is a difficult virus but some of the information is quite distressing indicating that the virus is lifelong. I recently found a flesh coloured lump, however, the appearance is very much different to that of 3 years ago, as those lumps where white and quite hard. I have in recent months been to 2 doctors, who have said that i have no warts at this time, so I can only assume that this is not a wart and nothing to worry about, as I trust the proffesionals not to miss anything concerning?

I have been with a new partner for about 4 months, I have not mentioned my past infection as I thought I would no longer be contagious. He has as of yet not shown any symptons. I understand that it can vary greatly when warts can appear after infection, but my understanding is that its most commonly within 3 months of infection? So as time passes can I be more confident that he wont get symptons and that I have probably cleared the virus? I do worry and feel some guilt, but I dont want to worry people discussing this without good reason.

Also I believe at the time my doctor said that only a few people actually develop symptoms, but this is something else that information differs on, with some saying not many people will get symptons and some places saying that alsmost all people will? What is your opinion on this?

Just to add a little more information, I spoke to a dermatologist that said HPV is transient and the low risk type infections are very unlikely to persist for this amount of time and only persist in around 5 % of people.

Many thanks in advance.
Answered by Dr. Bharat Chawda 7 hours later

Thank you for writing back,

I can understand your concern and the guilt you are facing. But frankly speaking after going through your problem, I feel you should not worry at all and live life as if you are completely normal.

Since its such a long time that you had infection and following which you have been clinically judged that you don't have any visible lesions in genitals, I think you should take your self as completely free from the virus.

It is true that not always that one would get visible warty lesion even though he has been exposed to it by contact. The actual reason for this is ones immunity. If immunity is good then such viruses don't manifest in body. It is only when one develops low immunity or when one is very mush stressed up then such opportunistic viruses take over and manifests.

Being a dermatologist, we are highly exposed to such viral warts as we keep getting patients with body warts. We often do electro-cautery for such body warts as treatment. While performing electro-cautery, there is release of fumes in air which also contains these viruses and thus can infect us. In-spite if this, we don't manifest any visible lesion, and the reason for this is our immunity. This is just to give you an example, that all those who are exposed may not manifest.

It is also true that these warts are transient and may disappear without treatment also (again depending upon your immunity).

In the end, I would just advise you to keep a watch for any visible lesion in genitals & presently take your self as completely free from any infection.

I hope my answer allays all your worries.

“ Wish you Good Health”.

Dr.Bharat chawda
Above answer was peer-reviewed by
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