Answering Patient Questions About HPV

Patients who have HPV may have specific questions and concerns.

“I am in a monogamous relationship. What do I tell my partner?”

  • While HPV is transmitted sexually, having an HPV infection is not indicative of infidelity. There is no sure way to know when you got HPV or who gave it to you. A person can have HPV for many years before it is found.
  • Anyone who is sexually active can get HPV, even if you have had sex with only one person.
  • Usually HPV has no signs or symptoms, and the body fights HPV off naturally before it causes health problems. HPV infections can be in the cervix for years or decades, so it is difficult (if not impossible) to know which partner exposed the infected individual to HPV.
Photo of a young woman asking her doctor questions

“Will I pass HPV to my partner?”1

If you have been with your partner for awhile, your partner likely has HPV too. But your partner likely has no signs or symptoms of HPV. There is no way to know if your partner gave you HPV, or if you gave HPV to your partner.

“Can I prevent passing HPV to a new partner?”2

Condoms may lower your chances of passing HPV to your new partner, if used all the time and the right way. But HPV can infect areas that are not covered by a condom (such as the labia, anus, and oropharynx), so condoms may not protect fully against HPV. The only sure way to prevent passing HPV to a new partner is not to have sex.

“I have genital warts. Does this mean I am going to get cervical cancer?”

The HPV types associated with warts (types 6 and 11) are not the same as those associated with cervical cancer (types 16 and 18), so having warts is not a risk factor for cervical cancer.

References

1Genital HPV Infection Fact Sheet

2Common Questions About HPV

Page last reviewed: September 14, 2015