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Tanika Asks:

Can HPV strains that cause cancer be spread thru kissing?

You asked about kissing as a mode of transmission for HPV.  It is not believed that HPV is harbored in the mouth. Thus, the answer to your question is "probably no," HPV cannot be spread through kissing. You may be confusing HPV with the Herpes simplex virus (HSV) that causes cold sores.

Rachel Asks:

I would like to start the 3-series vaccination for my 15 year-old daughter. My insurance does not cover the cost; and my primary physician quoted me $150 per shot - $450 total. This sounds extremely high to me. Are there places that offer this service cheaper? What is a reasonable amount to pay?

Your 15 year-old daughter may be eligible for the vaccine under the federally funded Vaccines for Children Program depending on your family income. Most local health departments utilize this program to pay for children's vaccines. I would suggest that you contact your local health department and ask them if they offer the vaccine on a sliding fee scale.  I applaud you on taking the preventive step of getting your daughter vaccinated.

Monica Asks:

My daughter has been recommended for the vaccine against cervical cancer. Will the injection make her get her periods sooner? Would it in any way cause her menstrual problems?  She hasn't started menses yet?

You asked about the cervical cancer vaccine. The vaccine is recommended for young girls to prevent HPV infection. It works best when given before a girl or woman has had any exposure to the HPV virus, which is transmitted through sexual contact. The vaccine has no effect on menses or her menstrual periods. It should neither hasten nor delay menses. What is does is to establish protection so that any HPV your daughter may be exposed to at some point in her future will not have an opportunity to invade the cells of her cervix and start to cause the cervical changes that can lead to cancer. It has been approved by the US Food and Drug Administration. It is recommended in many countries and by many physician organizations and by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Debra Asks:

I am trying to find out how long high risk HPV can stay dormant?  If you had cervical dysplasia 14 years ago (removed it with a LEEP procedure) and have not had signs of HPV or abnormal Pap smears for the next 14 years, could you have the same HPV strain reoccur and cause cervical cancer?

There is no definitive answer to your question as to how long high risk HPV infections can remain dormant. It varies greatly from person to person. High risk HPV infections can remain dormant for many years. Removing the abnormal cells in your cervix with a LEEP or Cone procedure will not eliminate HPV. It is thought, though, that after such a procedure, your body will mount an effectivie immune response to assist in clearing the virus. That is why these procedures are so effective. 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.

Angela Asks:

I was just diagnosed with HPV and have been in a relationship for 2 1/2 years. Can I keep having sex with my partner?  Did he give it to me?  Can I give it back to him if he gave it to me?

You ask a question that a lot of people have asked. Chances are that your partner has the same HPV types that you have since you're in a long term relationship. There's a lot we don't know about HPV, but most experts think that the HPV virus doesn't 'ping-pong' back and forth between the same partners. 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 portection against HPV, but they might offer you some peace of mind. 

HPV is a very common infection. But because it can be undetected in your body for years, it is hard to say who may have given it to you. Most HPV will be attached by your body's immune system and cleared up on its own, usually within a year or maybe two. But some HPV types hang around for a long time before they start causing trouble.  Thus, it is hard to know how long you've had the HPV and who gave it to you. Don't jump to conclusions.

Your best bet is to talk to your health care provider and ask these same questions. The two of you and perhaps your partner can have a discussion about the best course for you to take.

Johnetta Asks:

I just found out I have HPV and it's really hard for me to understand this. I have only had one partner and feel like maybe he has cheated on me and that is how I got it. I had a Pap a year ago and it was clean and this year it wasn't. I have abnormal cells. So I talked to my partner who swears he didn't cheat. But if he didn't cheat on me, how did I get HPV if it's sexually transmitted?

I can imagine the shock of hearing that you have HPV and I know that many women have the same questions that you do about how they got this virus. HPV is the most common sexually transmitted infection. Nearly 80% of American adults will have it sometime in their lives. It is transmitted through sexual contact. That means genital contact of a close nature, with or without sexual intercourse. HPV viruses can live for many years in your body without any signs or symptoms before starting to effect these changes in your cervix. The  HPV virus can remain "latent" in your body without your knowing it. Thus, it is very hard to know where you contracted the virus.  It is important for you to continue to get your regular checkups, Pap and HPV tests and follow your doctor's advice.

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