Expert Answers Factual Answers to Your Sexual Health Questions
I was treated for genital warts a long time ago. Am I cured, or could I still infect someone else?
I had genital warts a long time ago that were treated by a doctor. I’ve never had another outbreak. Do I still have HPV? Even though the virus seems dormant, can it recur at some time? If it is dormant, can I still pass it on to someone else?
Thanks for your great questions about HPV.
The first thing to know about HPV is that it is treatable...but not curable. So even once your genital warts have been cared for and you show no more symptoms, your body will still be infected with HPV and there’s a risk of spreading the virus to a sexual partner.
The fact is, HPV spreads easily through any kind of sexual contact like vaginal sex, oral sex or anal sex ⎼ even when no symptoms are present. That’s probably why it’s such a common disease.
Also keep in mind that genital warts can come back ⎼ although usually this happens within the first three to six months of treatment. It sounds like your body responded well to your first treatment and that’s great...but it’s still possible that you could get warts again another time.
If you ever do show visible symptoms of genital warts again, refrain from sexual activity during that time. Researchers think genital warts are more contagious when present. And when you don’t have symptoms, be sure to let your partner know that you have the type of HPV that causes genital warts...and use latex condoms or dental dams to reduce the risk of spread.
Want to know more? Turn to our HPV Overview to learn about HPV risks, symptoms, testing, treatment and prevention.
I hope this helped clear up your concerns about HPV transmission, and precautions you can take.
Dr. Cunningham is a member of the Analyte Physicans Group. She's also a member of the American College of Emergency Physicians, practicing at both Northwestern Lake Forest Hospital in Illinois and at Wheaton Franciscan All Saints Medical Center in Wisconsin. An ER physician since 2000, she regularly treats patients with STDs. Dr. Cunningham was educated at Wayne State University School of Medicine and completed her Emergency Medicine residency at Cook County Hospital in Chicago, IL.