Doctors Lounge - Infections Answers
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Forum Name: Sexually Transmitted Diseases
Question: Girlfriend has HPV???
|Total Khaos - Thu Jan 08, 2009 11:09 am||
I have been with my girlfriend for over 5 years. She has had numerous PAP smears and they always came back normal. Recently she was told her PAP came back abnormal and she was diagnosed with HPV, I have two questions and concerns now. If we have been together for over 5 years, how could she have contracted HPV and since her PAP smears were normal for years, did she just get this? Secondly, she does have genital herpes which I was aware of before we became sexual. Could the genital Herpes cause her PAP to test abnormal and read link she had HPV? I have been told that you can carry the HPV virus for years with no signs, but I read that if you have HPV it will show up on you PAP smear. If this is true then she couldn’t have had this for years if she was tested in the past and it was always normal??? Please help me understand..
|Debbie Miller, RN - Thu Jan 22, 2009 3:48 pm||
HPV is a condition that can arise from one of more than 100 different forms of virus. Most of these go undetected because they don't cause lesions or warts. The virus enters the skin through a cut or abrasion, possibly when immune system is depressed. An infected person can go years without any sign of the infection so there is not always a clear cut source of the infection. In most cases it also clears up on its own within two years but since there is the potential for complications, we watch it closely.
The reason we continue to recommend PAP smears and pelvic exams annually regardless of the previous negative results is because anyone can develop lesions or warts caused by one of the offending types of virus at any time, even years after last having sex.
The chances are you are also infected and we can't say which came first. We don't have a test for males currently and it doesn't carry the health risks for men that it does for women anyway. It is believed that some women are just more biologically vulnerable than others - the old "genetics" role so often implicated in health and illness.
In most cases the lesions go away on their own and don't develop into cancer, so even an abnormal pap is usually watched for a while to see what happens. Often the doctor asks the woman to return for follow up in six months.
Herpes is an entirely different virus and has nothing to do with her acquisition of HPV. But, the previous normal testing does not indicate she has not had the virus for years; just that she has not developed lesions that were apparent in the previous pap testing.
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