Don’t hope for the best: making sure you know you’re HPV free


The only way to be one hundred percent certain that you are HPV-free is with medical testing.

If you want to know whether or not you have contracted a genital form of HPV, consider a few factors:

How many sexual partners have you had?

It’s said that, every time you are with a new sexual partner, your risk for HPV increases tenfold.

This is no exaggeration. In medical terms, every time you come into sexual contact with someone, you are having second hand sexual contact with every one of their past partners. Even if you feel like you’re being nosy, it’s a good idea to talk with any potential sexual partners about their own history before engaging in intercourse. And, of course, always, always use a condom. HPV can still be transmitted with a condom, as genital HPV affects the entire area around the genitals, and not just the reproductive organs themselves, and not all of that area is covered by a latex condom.

When was the last time you were tested?

Getting an HPV test isn’t a one time thing. If you’ve had a new sexual partner since your last test, there’s no guarantee that you’re still safe. Every time you’ve been with another sexual partner, it’s a good idea to get tested again.

On the other hand, if you and your monogamous partner have already been tested and you know that you’re safe, you don’t have to test again. Unless you consider the possibility of infidelity, there is no real risk of having contracted HPV without some one-in-a-million occurrence having happened. Genital HPV is almost invariably only transmitted through sexual contact. It’s highly unlikely that you would contract HPV from a car seat or trying on pants at the clothing store.

What if I’ve been vaccinated?

The imperative for the HPV vaccine is largely thanks to the risk of cervical cancer developing from certain strains of HPV. However, the vaccine only protects against high risk forms of HPV, and so, a regular pap smear is still in order, as would be an HPV test. You simply cannot know for certain unless you A) Are, in fact, one hundred percent certain with no room for doubt that not a single one of your sexual partners have ever had HPV (in other words, you have notarized test results from every one of them), or B) have been tested, yourself.

There is no way to guess at it, no way to simply talk to your sexual partners and be one hundred percent certain that they are HPV free. Even if your current partner is monogamous with you, and has only had one previous partner, and that one previous partner only had one previous partner, if that first partner’s first partner had HPV, there is a very good chance that you will contract it, as well. There is simply no way to know without having an STD or HPV test conducted.

Considering that 70% of all cervical cancer can be blamed on HPV, there is simply no excuse not to be tested, not to have your regular pap smear conducted, and not to be careful.