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clnchr Asks:

i was just dx with hpv...dr. told me it is one of the types that are high risk for cancer. she couldnt tell me what type for some reason..but my pap was normal. what can i do besides my annual pap (that i will never forget to do every year),to make sure i do not get abnormal cells?? ty

HPV is a really common virus. Nearly 80% of all women will have an HPV infection during their lifetime.  Our knowledge of how HPV acts in your body is not yet entirely clear.  It can clear up and not show up again. It can clear up and then return. And it can just hang around as a persistent infection.  In any of these cases, your best bet for reducing your risk of having the HPV infection grow into cancer are similar.  You can reduce your risk by practicing healthy lifestyle habits like eating well, exercising and not smoking. If you smoke, quit.  Smoking has been shown to significantly increase the likelihood of a persistent HPV infection turning into cancer. And make sure you follow your doctor's advice and have regular check ups. 

josie Asks:

i was told i had HPV when i was 19, had cancerous cells, it was removed and was doing fine. a couple years later i had no signs of HPV at all. My Doc said that my immune system could fight it off. i am 25 now, and have had no symptoms since. does that mean i do not have HP any longer?

HPV can lay dormant in your body for a long time. We really do not know how long it can be there without showing any symptoms. So it's not possible to tell whether your HPV infection is no totally gone or if it was just fought and surpressed by your immune system. The best protection you can provide yourself is to follow steps to keep yourself healthy:  eat well, exercise, don't smoke and limit your sexual partners.  Be well.

donna Asks:

Ive been married for 16 years and recently found out that I have a high risk hpv. Can the virus lay dormant for all these years or did my husband fool around on me???

HPV can lay dormant in your body once you have it for a very long time. Researchers are looking at this question but do not yet fully understand how long it can hang around in your body.  Your high risk HPV could have been laying dormant for all the time you've been married. There is no way to know. So don't go jumping to conclusions and blame your husband.  Make sure that you get regular check ups with your doctor and follow her advice. 

Iris Asks:

My boyfriend has HPV, I think he exposed me to it, yet i dont have it,and have been talking about having sex again. I am just afraid of getting the actual disease this time. Even though we have decided to use condoms,is there something he can take to get rid of it, or how do i avoid not getting it

HPV is a virus that we don't yet have a cure for. So there is no medicine to take to get rid of it once you have it.  I'm glad you're thinking about how to protect yourself and reduce your risk of getting HPV. You can get vaccinated to protect you from getting HPV if you are a female between the ages of 9 and 26. Condoms are another good method of protection, although they do not cover every area that may potentially be exposed to this virus.  Other ways to limit your risk of getting HPV are to limit the number of sexual partners you have, eat well and exercise and don't smoke. HPV is a virus that can cause a lot of problems. Once you have it, it can stay in your body a long time. Please do everything you can to protect yourself.  

Roberta Asks:

How precisely do you have to comply with the timing of the 2nd and 3rd shots?  Does it matter if I get the second shot a week or two before the recommended time?  Would it hurt to wait two or three months to get a follow up shot if I can’t get to the doctor at the exact time?

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 (non-inferiority) in those who get the 2nd and 3rd doses delayed.

rachel Asks:

I had my first shot last June 6 2009 . My obgyne injected it on my right butt.  I just read in your publication that it should be administered either in the arm or thigh. Is that a problem?

No- but it probably hurtJ

bob Asks:

I have just learned that my teenage daughter has HPV, the high risk kind. Should I worry that my other daughter could get the virus by using the same soap or the same towel? Is it possible to be transmitted this way?

No need to worry.  HPV is transmitted by skin to skin contact. Sex is the most common skin to skin contact when this occurs. It isn’t spread through toilet seats or towels; eating out of the same bowl of cereal or kissing. So your other daughter is not in danger of contracting the HPV virus from her sister.


Christine Snider Asks:


I have been diagnosed with low level HPV. I am currently trying to boost my immune system to get cured. However, will having sex aggravate this condition. I do not think I have any warts or lesions.


Sex will not aggravate your condition. But if you do have sex, you can reduce your chance of getting another strain of the HPV virus by having sex with only one partner, who also only has sex with you. If you are not in such a monogamous relationship, you can reduce your risk by limiting the number of partners you have and choosing only partners who have a limited number of partners.

You can also protect against getting infected with another HPV strain by using a condom during sex. This will give you some protection against HPV, HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases that may increase your risk of cervical cancer. In addition to vaccination and regular screening, consistent condom use has been shown to reduce the risk of cervical, vaginal, and vulvar HPV infection.

Another important way to fight off your HPV infection is not to smoke. If you do smoke, try to quit. And if you don’t smoke, don’t think about starting.

doug Asks:

How long after having sex will the virus show up. If I have been having sex with someone for 6 months is it possible that I gave it to her?

The answer to your question is not known.  It is not known what the ‘transmission efficacy’ of HPV is.  That is, we do not know the rate by which people actually get an infection for each exposure to the virus.  This is in contract to other sexually transmitted microbes, where an exposure often results in infection.  There is another unknown about HPV infections to complicate matters. If an HPV shows up at a later time, it is not clear whether this HPV infection is new or a reactivation of an old HPV infection. We have a lot yet to learn about HPV.  To reduce your and your partner’s risk of getting HPV, see the assessing your risk section of our web site,

sabah Asks:

Will the vaccinations have any side effects in the future. Also after a set number of years will l have to redo any vaccinations.

Studies show that the vaccine is extremely safe. There is no live virus in the vaccine. The most common side effects that occur right after receiving the injection are redness and soreness where the shot was given. Headaches (like when you have a cold or fever) can also happen. Rarely, fever can also occur. Over-the-counter pain and fever medications will help if you have symptoms. As with any new vaccine, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the FDA will continue to monitor HPV vaccination for long term effects.  One of the questions that they will be looking to answer is the same one you’ve asked, that is, how long will this vaccination last and will a booster be needed in future years.  After seven years of research, the efficacy of the vaccine appears to be lasting.                                                                                                                                                         

sabah Asks:

If l took 2 of the vaccinations, and become pregnant a while after the second vaccination,  do l have to redo the vaccinations after l have given birth. Will this be ok, or will it have side effects

No, you don’t need to start the vaccination series all over again. You should proceed to get the last vaccine after pregnancy.  In fact, you should receive the HPV vaccine as soon as you can after pregnancy.  If you are breastfeeding, the CDC recommends you can still get vaccinated while lactating.

Sandy Asks:

I have just gotten the loop procedure done to remove precancerous cells caused by HPV. Will I ever be able to have sex with my boyfriend again or will there always be the risk of contracting HPV again from him?

Yes, you will be able to have sex again.  However, there is still a lot we do not know about HPV. Most experts think that the HPV virus doesn't 'ping-pong' back and forth between the same partners. The LEEP or Cone procedures do not get rid of your HPV infection, only the abnormal cells resulting from persistent HPV infection.  Condoms do offer some protection against HPV transmission, as well as other sexually transmitted infections. But HPV can be spread through genital contact and that contact can occur outside of the area covered by a condom. So condoms don't offer complete protection against HPV, but they might offer you some peace of mind. 


It is thought, though, that after a LEEP or a Cone procedure, your body will mount an effective immune response to assist in clearing the virus. That is why these procedures are so effective, and cervical abnormalities rarely come back after such procedures in women with working immune systems. But this does not happen in all women and it is impossible, at this time, to predict who will have a persistent HPV infection which may lead to a recurrence of abnormal cells. That is why you need to talk about your concerns with your provider and continue to take good care of yourself and get regular checkups and Pap tests, especially if you have had a procedure for abnormal cervical cells.

cristina luz Asks:

Is it safe to have the cervical cancer vaccine if I've had a vaccine like the pneumococal vaccine recently?  Do I have to wait to get it?

From what we know from studies conducted on the cervical cancer vaccine so far, it appears to be safe to get the cervical cancer vaccine along with other vaccines (co-administration).  Long term studies will continue.

lisa Asks:

I have been married for 20 years and just gave birth to my fifth child 6 weeks ago. I went for my Pap and was called back and told I have HPV and pre-cancerous cells. I have had a normal Pap for years. Can it be dormant for that long?

You ask a question that is on the mind of a lot of women upon hearing that they have unexpected results from their Pap test.  In most women infected with HPV, the cells in the cervix return to normal after the body's immune system has eliminated the HPV infection of forced it into latency without the woman ever having any signs or symptoms of the HPV.  However, some HPV infections do not fo away and may remian present in the cervical cells for year, without causing any abnormalities most of the time. Most HPV infections clear up within 2 years, some sooner, some longer. Long-standing infection can lead to changes in the cells that can progress to cancer if not treated. If is these cell changes taht a Pap test can detect. Make sure that you follow up with your doctor to get the treatment recommended so taht your pre-cancer cells don't turn into cancer.  Your actions can prevent cervical cancer.

Daize Asks:

Is it possible to have HPV, have it clear up then become active again? I have had multiple procedures done for everything from mild dysplasia to CIN 111 to VAIN. I had normal paps for 10 years in between the first abnormal pap (that was before HPV was known about)

The answer to your question is 'yes' it is possible for HPV to become active again.  But it doesn't happen in every case.  HPV has a tendency to lay dormant for years.  It can then reoccur. In some women, it may reoccur many times and cause the changes you have described such as CIN or cervical intraepithelial neoplasia and VAIN or vaginal intraepithelial neoplasia.  In other women, it may not reoccur.  If you think you are having problems, please contact your doctor and ask about these concerns.

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