Q: If my partner previously had a partner with HPV, am I at risk?

HPV (Human Papilloma Virus) is so common that the lifetime cumulative risk of being an HPV carrier is 80 percent. In other words, we're nearly all carriers of HPV.

Fortunately, most people do not suffer adverse effects. Reactions to HPV exposure depends on our immune systems and whether we are exposed to high-risk or low-risk HPV types. The most common consequences for women are vulvar warts or abnormal pap smears, but, again, most women have no symptoms at all.

So you can assume two things: That your partner (like 80 percent of adults) is an HPV carrier, but that the likelihood of a health consequence is small. If this proves to be a long-term relationship, enjoying sex without a condom will be acceptable and safe for you.

For anyone entering into a new relationship: Getting screened for sexually transmitted infections is smart--and it's a way of signaling you care about each other and the new beginning you're making together.

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