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Questions from August 2010

misty Asks:

Is there any way of knowing how long I've had HPV?

Once you get infected with HPV, the virus likely stays in your body either as an active infection or lays dormant and undetectable after the infection is cleared by your immune system. The HPV does not go away and may remain present in the cervical cells for years. Because it can last so long in your body before any cell changes occur, it is difficult to know who transmitted the HPV to you or how long you’ve had it. So the answer to your question, is ‘no.’

sophia Asks:

I have had my 3rd cervical cancer jab but I was on my period. Is that a problem?

The vaccines are given over 3 visits: the first visit, then in about 2 months, and the last one at 6 months from the first.  You can still safely get the shot when you are having your period.

Michelle Asks:

I was recently told I had HPV. Is it safe to still have sex? Ive been with my boyfriend for a couple of months and have not been using condoms. Should we start now? And also, should I think about getting the vaccine.

Chances are that your partner has the same HPV types that you have if you're in a long term, monogamous relationship. There's a lot we don't know about HPV, but most experts think that the same type of HPV virus doesn't 'ping-pong' back and forth between the same partners- it is likely present in both partners and can recur.   Condom usage can reduce your risk of HPV transmission. Please also raise these questions with your healthcare provider. He or she is in the best position to give you personal medical advice including whether or not you should get the vaccine.

Maria Asks:

Hi, I had the LEEP done 1 month ago. Is it adviceable to get the vaccination for HPV after the LEEP?

There are a number of factors that will help answer your question. First, your age. The vaccines are recommended in the US for women ages 9-26. Second, your sexual history.  The more sexual partners you’ve had and the earlier you initiated having sex, the more likely you are to have been exposed to the types of HPV that the vaccines protect against.  The vaccines prevent getting certain types of HPV. But if you already have the HPV, the vaccine does not clear the virus and getting the vaccine will not be very effective for you. Please talk to your healthcare provider about this question. Together you can decide whether getting vaccinated is right for you.

Sharon Asks:

Once the HPV is dormant in the body is there a high chance of passing on the virus to others?

If HPV is clinically not detectable (dormant), it is unlikely that you will pass it on to others.

Kimbo Asks:

I have precancerous cells caused by HPV & I have a appt. for LEEP Surgery in one month. Is it ok to have sex with my boyfriend before I have the LEEP? Will sex aggravate my HPV condition before the surgery? Are there negative consequences for my boyfriend for having sex with me before the surgery?

Chances are that your partner has the same HPV types that you have.  Most experts think that the HPV virus doesn't 'ping-pong' back and forth between the same partners, so you shouldn't make it worse by having sex before the LEEP procedure.  But please talk to your doctor about these questions and how you can reduce your risk of having the HPV infection return. 

Ericson Asks:

If you missed the exact schedule for the third dose of hpv vaccine like a week after or a month will it still be effective? And how long it must be to be reschedule?

You should try to do your best to get the shot on time.  However, if you do not get it on time, there does not appear to be a reduced response in those who get the 2nd and 3rd doses at a later time.  Call your doctor’s office to reschedule as soon as possible.

Confused Asks:

I was just told I have low grade HPV with precancerous cells. I have been with my husband for 11 years and I have gotten annual paps since then. Why is it showing up now??

HPV can lay dormant in your body for a very long time. We don’t fully understand the dormancy of HPV, but researchers now think that it is likely that once you have the HPV virus that it never goes away but is either active or lays dormant in your body. Your high risk HPV could have been lying dormant for all the time you've been married. There is no way to know. So don't blame your husband.  The reason it is showing up now is also unknown, but it is likely that your immune system for some reason didn’t fight it off. One of the biggest contributors to HPV infection is smoking. So if you smoke, do think about quitting.

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