Why You Have to Tell Your Partner If You Have HPV

 photo via flickr

Many experts, including doctors, will tell women that they don’t need to inform their male partners if they have HPV. The reason given is that 80% of sexually-active adults have or will acquire HPV — in other words, basically everyone — and also, the virus is much less likely to harm a guy’s health.

Our own medical expert, Dr. Kate, happens to disagree, and you can read her professional explanation here. And our man-parts doctor also has something to say about men and HPV — it’s not guaranteed smooth sailing.

And we happen to disagree too! Here’s our laywomen’s response to why you should fess up if you have HPV:

Everyone has the right to know what they’re getting into when they’re getting into bed with you. It doesn’t matter how pervasive an STD is, how inconsequential it might turn out to be, or how likely it is that you’ll eventually get it (or that you already have it) — everyone deserves to know the truth. So if you know you’ve got something, you’ve got to come clean (as it were). Fucking is not a right, it’s a privilege, and you’ve got to earn that privilege via honest communication about your bod and where it’s been. We’re pretty sure any one of the New York Times ethicists would have our back on this.

If more people fessed up to their sexual health status, then we’d all know a little more about the pervasive STDs that affect us — and probably not be so freaked out. Knowledge is power, and power is sexy. The more we all talk about it, the more it will become clear that it’s not only dirty, promiscuous, evil people who get STDs (such a tired yet stubborn cliche) — many totally cool, super nice and very good-looking people get sexually transmitted infections, too.

Unfortunately, honest communication isn’t always the quickest route to sex or even love. So people get scared into concealing an STD out of fear of loneliness (or horniness). Don’t fall into this trap: Even though it doesn’t feel like it when you first get diagnosed with something, you will have sex again. You will fall in love and you’ll probably get married, have a couple kids, the whole nine.

And please, if any of you happen to be on the receiving end of a conversation like this, be cool about it. Honest Abes should be rewarded for their behavior — not with unprotected genital-to-genital contact, natch, but at least with a polite, considerate, and sympathetic response. Of course, it’s your right to walk away (just don’t run). But know this: Many STDs are either curable, or at least manageable. So if you choose to turn your back, you could be turning it on your one true soulmate and walking into a future of eternal solitude.



  1. Here’s my strategy: just presume herpes and hpv on everyone, and act accordingly.

    Seriously, at 80% infection rates, this doesn’t even require discussion as far as I’m concerned: you have HPV. You also have herpes.

  2. I have always been honest with my partners, but a lot of the information isn’t always very clear. Four years ago I was told that I had contracted high-risk HPV, and my OBGYN at the time told me that this was something I would have for the rest of my life. My partner at the time was wonderfully understanding and we continted to see each other for some time before going our separate ways.
    Fast forward to two years ago, through several less than thrilling dating encounters, including one that nearly made me give up dating altogether. My new OBGYN advised me that not only was I no longer carrying the virus, that according to my records I hadn’t been for some time, and that HPV is actually more akin to a cold or a flu; most of the time your body will get over it and, while you’re always still at risk if you are sexually active, it’s not a Forever thing.
    I continue to be honest with my partners, but I honestly wonder how much pain and sadness I could have avoided had I know the truth in the first place. Of course peppeople should always be honest, and that honesty should be met with understanding and acceptance, but the medical professionals who inform their patients incorrectly should always keep appraised of the newest information, if only to make sure people do not suffer unnecessarily.

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