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Family Physician

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How long does HPV remain contagious?

Answered by
Dr. Shoaib Khan

General & Family Physician

Practicing since :2009

Answered : 9409 Questions

Posted on Sat, 23 Aug 2014 in Sexually Transmitted Diseases
Question: Hi! I was diagnosed with a high and low risk form of hpv about 9 years ago. I was having abnormal paps every few years but haven't for awhile now, and have never had a breakout since the first time. I started dating someone a few years after the diagnosis and removal of genital warts. We dated 6 years and he showed no sign of any breakout, he was aware of the diagnosis. Also, he smoked cigs and drank which I've read isn't good for immune health. Could I still be contagious to a future partner?
Answered by Dr. Shoaib Khan 1 hour later
Brief Answer:
Symptom-free for more than 8 months?

Detailed Answer:
Hello ma'am and welcome.

Thank you for writing to us.

I have gone through your query with diligence and would like you to know that I am here to help.

i should rightfully start by saying that you have a very good question which has been debated in many medical seminars and excursions. From extensive studies, some individuals (a very small percentage) have found to be contagious all their life. Although not all of them were immunocompromised (low or poor immunity), some of them certainly were. As for the rest, it has come to be believed that once you are symptom-free for a duration of 6-8 months, then you are considered non-contagious and can even be tested to be found HPV negative.

But there have been a few exceptions to this as well; a few cases reported transmission of HPV from an alleged symptom-free individual to a healthy person. But it has not been proven whether or not the transmission took place during a phase wherein the individual was presenting mild symptoms. As I said ma'am, this is a highly debatable topic.

But in conclusion, as a doctor and with my experience with the infection; I agree with the doctors who have said that once you are symptom-free for a period of 6-8 months, you can consider yourself to be HPV negative (just go for a test to confirm the same), and go about your life like a normal human being without worrying about anything at all ma'am.

I hope you find my response both helpful and informative. Please feel free to write back to me for any further clarifications, and I would be more than happy to help you.

Best wishes.
Above answer was peer-reviewed by : Dr. Vaishalee Punj
Follow up: Dr. Shoaib Khan 1 hour later
Can you continue to be positive for the high risk hpv but test negative for low risk? every once in a while my paps come back irregular. They are usually clear after 6 months though and has never become an issue. From what I have read the body can fight the low risk but other types of hpv can still stay consistent. Is this correct?
Answered by Dr. Shoaib Khan 9 hours later
Brief Answer:
Queries addressed ma'am

Detailed Answer:
Hello once again ma'am.

You are quite right. As explained in my first response, some individuals can be contagious although they are symptom-free and have reported a negative result on tests. Although such situations have not been commonly encountered, they do exist.

The body's natural mechanism tries to fight all types of infection, whether low or high grade. But with a little help the low grade ones are easily treated, whereas, the high-grade ones are not only sometimes completely resistant to most treatment, but are also recurrent and can result in leaving the individual contagious for life. So the answer you are seeking is a 'Yes'.

The irregularity sometimes reported in your paps is common, but as long as they do not report an abnormality towards HPV it should not be a cause for concern.

I hope this helps in clearing the questions whose answers you were seeking. Please do not hesitate to write to me for any further clarifications. I am always here to help.

Best wishes.
Above answer was peer-reviewed by : Dr. Bhagyalaxmi Nalaparaju

The User accepted the expert's answer

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