Re: hpv and future partners
You should do some research into types of HPV. It sounds to me like what your ex-girlfriend had was a form of high-risk HPV, not the kind that develops warts. With high-risk HPV, there are no visible physical symptoms--women probably don't know they have it until they go for a pap smear and it comes back abnormal. Those abnormal cells can develop into cervical or, as they're now finding out, oral cancer. As long as the situation is monitored, however, this isn't likely to happen--most cases of HPV will "clear" on their own, and if they don't there are procedures that can remove abnormal cells.
Now, I said "clear" in quotations because there are two theories on whether or not the virus truly clears. Yes, within 1-2 years of infection, most immune systems will suppress the virus. Some believe that means it is gone forever. However, many also believe (and I'm among them) that it is possible that the virus merely returns to a dormant state within the body and can become reactive when the immune system is down. My best friend, who is in great shape but has a terrible immune system, has had the virus come back twice, and the last time had to under go a LEEP procedure to remove abnormal cells.
As a man, I think you're less fortunate in that there is no test for you to at least know for sure if the virus is active or not. For this reason, it is best to do as much as you can to keep your immune system in check--there have been some recent posts about that on here. Probiotics, vitamins, eating well, exercise--all things to make sure your body is in the best shape to keep the virus suppressed. It's good that you don't smoke, and lowering alcohol intake is good, too.
For future partners: Condoms are somewhat effective--as in, it's better than not using them at all. But HPV is spread through skin-to-skin contact, not through fluid like many STDs. This means that the condom will cover the majority of the infected area, but not all of it. It also means that female condoms are more effective as they cover a larger area.
As a female who recently found out she was infected, I let my last partner know so that he could, if he chose (and I hope he does), let future sexual partners know that he has been exposed to high-risk HPV. Most likely, he gave it to me without knowing he was doing so, but now he at least knows it is a possibility he could pass it on to someone else.
It's your own decision how you want to approach this--it's a difficult thing to do, and right now, at 25, I'm dreading dates myself for the same reason. I know the information out there is overwhelming, but honestly I found the best thing you can do is to arm yourself with information. Then, when the time comes, you can sit down with the new person in your life, explain to them what you have, the possibilities for them if they sleep with you (and for women the threat IS higher, so it's important they know), etc.
Last edited by roisindubh; 03-26-2012 at 09:27 AM.