Re: How long can you carry hpv
Unfortunately with HPV, it can be difficult to tell exactly where it came from. But there are several things that need to be clarified as to where it didn't come from.
It did not come from contact with raw sewage. Transmission of HPV requires skin to skin contact.
It did not come from a medical professional who had warts on his/her hands. It is estimated that there about 100 forms of HPV, most of which have not evolved to effect the genital area. Types 6, 11, 16, and 18 are the most common types that effect the genital area (at least in the US), and are also the four strains that are targeted by the Guardasil vaccine. Types 6 and 11 cause genital warts, while 16 and 18 can cause exterior genital and cervical cancers.
Whether or not HPV can ever become active again after it has been immunologically suppressed is to be determined. However, based on what I have read, and the medical professionals with whom I have had many conversations, under most circumstances 90% of infected persons will overcome the virus on their own (Center for Disease Control), never to have symptoms expressed again, and never to be contagious with that particular strain again.
There is a debate as to whether or not a person can experience symptoms caused by the original infection due to a compromised immune system, but consider this scenario as to why there is confusion.
-Person A was diagnosed with genital warts in 2008 and was treated with Imiquimod or some other highly effective treatment that caused all symptoms to subside. After experiencing no symptoms for a year, he or she has more than likely fully suppressed the condition
-Person A, now free of symptoms in 2009, begins to engage in sexual activity again again.
-In the winter of 2010, Person A comes down with a major flu or pneumonia, and genital warts reappear
Does this mean that the original infection from 2009 has become live again? Not necessarily. If, back in 2008, Person A was diagnosed with genital warts, it could have been either type 6 or type 11, both of which are unique strains that operate independently of one-another. For the sake of argument, Person A was treated for type 6 back in 2008. When Person A got symptoms of genital warts in 2010 after engaging in sexual activity in 2009, he or she could have gotten type 11 from a new partner during a 2009 encounter. Thus, two completely independent infections that express the exact same symptoms have been experienced by Person A.
Also consider that an estimated 80% of sexually active persons have contracted AT LEAST one form of HPV in their lifetime (Center for Disease Control). It is entirely possible for Person A to have encountered type 6 and type 11 during his or her ventures. It is even possible that Person A contracted types 6 and 11 simultaneously, but only one strain was expressing symptoms at the time, and therefore was the only condition that was targeted for treatment, allowing the other strain to lie dormant until 2010. As scary as it sounds, it is more likely that Person A experienced two completely independent sexually transmitted infections.
Until tissue biopsies become a normal part of treatment for GW, we may never know for sure. The Digene HPV DNA test is slowly being integrated as a regular treatment for cervical HPV, but that is due to the cancer threat. GWs have not been found to cause cancer, and therefore have not been subjected to the same medical scrutiny.
In anon2012's situation where HPV shows up fifteen years into a marriage, yes it is true that the virus could have been dormant or asymptomatic in either or both partners. It is an unlucky 20%-25% of people (CDC, Merck & Co.) who even express any outward symptoms of HPV at all. One or both persons in that relationship could have been infected but remained asymptomatic. Since that person was asymptomatic, he or she was never treated. How can you treat yourself for a condition you don't know you have? At this point, it would be best to focus on bolstering health and emotional well-being within the marriage and not stressing so much over where it came from. If he did not have an affair, then anon2012 will at least not be tortured by a guilty conscience, and hopefully husband and wife will be able to find solace in the midst of their shared struggle.
So in summary, HPV is an extremely slippery condition, having multiple strains that can express the exact same symptoms. It is also very common, but also very treatable if the afflicted takes a proactive approach to treatment.
It is against the Healthboards policy to post links, but the Center for Disease Control and Prevention is by far the best source of reliable information on HPV. I would also recommend reviewing the history and importance of Pap screenings to get a better idea of the evolution of HPV detection and treatment. Also have a look at the Gardasil and Cervarix websites. They have a lot of nice background information on prevalence and prevention. I hope this has been helpful. Please continue posting questions as they arise, and more people will try to help you through this process.