A service provided by the BC Centre for Disease Control
I am a 28-year-old man and sexually active. I am always careful but afraid that one day I may get HPV. If you get HPV, does that mean that you must refrain from sexual activities for the rest of your life to avoid transmitting the virus to a partner?

Hi

The Human papillomavirus (HPV) is a very common virus that can cause visible warts on people.  We currently think that about 70% of the adult population will have at least one genital HPV infection in their lifetime. It is easily passed since condoms are not 100% effective and because it can also pass with oral sex.

HPV is a difficult one to know about as most people who get it never have any symptoms. There is currently no test available at a clinic level to see if someone has an active infection, which means for most people we find that HPV is something that comes and goes without anyone knowing.

We find that most people will clear or suppress the virus so that it will not be passed to someone else in the future, it just can take a bit of time for this to happen.

The most common way that we know if someone has HPV passed to them is when they develop genital warts. Genital warts can be treated like any wart on the body with liquid nitrogen being the most common treatment. Most warts will normally go away with no treatment but treatment seems to speed up the process.

We normally tell people who have had genital warts to use condoms until all the visible warts are gone. Using condoms and having had the HPV vaccine will reduce the chance of HPV passing but it is not 100%.

We also tell people that if no visible wart is seen within 2 years it is considered a resolved infection unlikely to reappear or be passed to an uninfected partner. We find for many people that genital warts/HPV can cause a bit of a change in their sex life for a period of time but for most people after this time they are able to continue their sexual relationships without fear of passing it to a future partner.

Have a look at the following pages for additional information.

HPV page for more information on HPV.

HPV client handout.

HPV Vaccine.

Please leave a comment to let us know if this answers your question or if you need more information.

Health Nurse

For other readers, please feel free to leave a comment, or let us know if this was helpful.

This answer was posted on May 5, 2016

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