The Doctor is In: Do I tell him I have HPV?

T. called me last week, still reeling from the news that her pap test was positive for HPV. "I keep thinking, when did I get it, how long have I had it, and worst, what do I tell the next guy I sleep with?!"

The question of whether or not (and how) to disclose to your partner that you have HPV is fraught. I find myself torn, and feeling a dialogue between my two halves--Trusting Female Friend and Cautious Doctor--coming on...

Trusting Female Friend: My new guy is so great...I think it's time to have The Talk, and let him know that I have HPV.

Cautious Doctor: Why would you do that?

TFF: But you always advocate full disclosure--why wouldn't I tell him?

CD: Because he can't do anything with the information.

TFF: He'll be more likely to want to use condoms, I bet.

CD: Condoms are great, but they don't completely prevent HPV transmission--it doesn't prevent all skin-to-skin contact during sex. So yes, wear the condoms, but for yourself as well as him.

TFF: But I don't want to give him an STD--that's so skanky.

CD: Honestly, he's likely already been exposed--or infected--by HPV himself.

TFF: Sheesh, then maybe I should have him get tested, too.

CD: Unfortunately, there's no test for HPV for guys.

TFF: But if I give him HPV, won't he be at risk of getting sick?

CD: HPV rarely causes disease in men who have heterosexual sex. The most common disease is genital warts--unsightly, but easily treated. Most of the time, HPV doesn't cause any disease at all in women or men who are exposed. When you're healthy, and don't smoke, your body tends to clear the virus in time without any lasting damage.

TFF: Then why all the hype about Gardasil?

CD: Because a small proportion of women won't clear the virus, and then they're at risk of precancerous lesions on their cervix...which could lead to full-blown cancer in time.

TFF: But it still feels dishonest not to tell him.

CD: I hear you. But the bottom line is that knowing you currently have HPV may worry him, over an infection that would most likely not hurt him.

Who do you agree with, Cautious Doc or Trusting Female Friend? Have you ever talked about HPV with a partner?

Related Links from Daily Bedpost and Glamour: