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Q: Can I be re-infected with HPV by my husband of 20 years?

by Dr. Barb DePree MD

It's estimated that 60 to 85 percent of all adults have come in contact with HPV and are therefore carriers. Any HPV that you or he introduced to the relationship 20 years ago, you were both exposed to initially—and remember, we basically all bring HPV into every relationship! If you have been in the same, monogamous relationship for 20 years, you cannot be ‘re-infected’ by the same HPV type. There’s no need for concern--or for condoms or other preventive measures!

There are over 100 different subtypes of HPV. Fortunately, nearly all are ‘low risk,’ and only a few are ‘high risk’. The low-risk types are now felt to be mostly an inconvenience without any true long-term risk. The few high-risk types (e.g., type 16, 18, 35) have a risk of causing progressive cellular changes, putting a woman at risk for cervical cancer.

Relax and enjoy sex without a condom within your relationship! (Just remember, if over time you do have a new partner, you can expose him to the HPV type that you carry. A condom will reduce the risk of exposure).


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