Broaching New HPV Diagnosis With Boyfriend

I was diagnosed with HPV today and am in a state of shock. I don’t know how to broach the subject with my boyfriend of one year. We use condom all the time but he likes to perform oral sex.

Cartoon style diagram of HPV
HPV Virus

First off, HPV is super common; the fact that you know you have it is what is uncommon. My assumption is that we all have it and should take precautions according to our own risk / reward calculations. HPV is slowly becoming less common now that there is a vaccine, but not all of us had access to the vaccine at the appropriate time (and there are some variants of HPV that the vaccine doesn’t cover.) My doctor told me that if you’ve had more than a couple of sexual partners you have probably been exposed to all the varieties in the vaccine, but check with your doctor, as different doctors have different opinions (and some doctors recommend getting vaccinated even if you have been diagnosed because the vaccine might protect against different variants.) Your boyfriend does need to be informed so he can make his own decisions. I would just tell your boyfriend as simply as possible without making a big deal of it. It is perfectly possible that you got HPV from him but only you have symptoms. However, blame is pointless and futile (going back in time to find a point of exposure is usually unsuccessful.) If he has any questions point him to the Center for Disease Control (CDC) page on HPV and Men. Again, this is something most adults deal with, but most don’t know. In many ways you are ahead of the game because you know.

Your boyfriend might also want to check into the vaccine with his doctor, the local health department or Planned Parenthood, because there is now a vaccine for men.

HPV is less likely to spread via oral sex than through other types of sex, but it can. In the future, you and your boyfriend or future partners might want to use barriers for oral sex to prevent spreading HPV and protect from other diseases.

You didn’t say whether or not you had warts or simply tested positive for HPV, so follow your doctor’s advice for future screenings and testing. HPV can cause warts and it can make some kinds of cancer more likely, but in the vast majority of cases, it just goes away on it’s own. You wouldn’t want to be one of the exceptions and then make it worse by not getting further tests or treatment as necessary though.

Good luck and good health!

2015 HPV Treatment Guidelines from the CDC (includes some very heartening information for those who have been diagnosed.)
Human Papillomavirus (HPV) and Cancer from the CDC

Image attribution: Jawahar Swaminathan and MSD staff at the European Bioinformatics Institute

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