Sexual Health and Relationships

My Partner Feels So Guilty

I was diagnosed with genital warts about six months after I began dating my boyfriend. He’s never had signs of anything, but his previous partner had a number of abnormal Pap tests, which we now assume were due to HPV. I went through several treatments and the warts are now gone. I was upset, of course, but it’s in the past and oh well. This has become a real issue with my guy, though. He keeps saying “I did this to you!” and feels so guilty about giving me HPV that it’s taking a toll on our sex life. We’ve gone from having frequent sex to a point where he will barely touch me. Any advice about what we might be able to do?

First, unless he's the only partner you've ever had, he doesn't really know he's the source of your HPV. The types of HPV that would have caused cervical disease in his former partner may or may not have been the same that would be found with genital warts, as there are many different types of HPV.

Of course, he could be the one who exposed you to HPV, but keep in mind virtually all sexually active people have one or more HPV infections over their lifetimes. It's tough to be a normal, sexually active person and not encounter HPV.

Perhaps either individual or couples counseling will help, since this has become such a big issue in your relationship. Also, encourage your boyfriend to log onto our discussion board forums to chat with us. Other than that, getting good, clear information about HPV is important, and a key for you both to know that having HPV is very common! Neither of you has done anything silly, inappropriate, or wrong. If you're human then you almost certainly have, have had, or will have HPV!

--The NCCC Staff 

Partners Share HPV

I was just diagnosed with HPV. What about my partner? Does he have it too and will we reinfect each other?

Current partners are likely to have HPV, too, but this may be difficult to prove. Testing options for HPV are limited and most cases are never diagnosed. Most sexually active couples share HPV until the immune response suppresses the infection. Partners who are sexually intimate only with each other are not likely to pass the same virus back and forth. When HPV infection goes away the immune system will remember that HPV type and keep a new infection of the same HPV type from occurring again. However, because there are many different types of HPV, becoming immune to one HPV type may not protect you from getting HPV again if exposed to another HPV type.

--The NCCC Staff