am a 26-year-old hetero male, and I recently started hooking
up with a new girl. She’s very cute and smart and I’m really
attracted to her. During a recent make-out session, she informed
me that she has HPV, the STD that causes genital warts. From
what I’ve read, condoms don’t necessarily mean you’re safe.
I’ve been sexually active for a number of years, and I’ve
had unprotected sex with other partners. Could I have HPV
already? Can you please shed some light on this disease for
me? I really want to have sex with this girl, but not at the
risk of screwing up my penis for the rest of my life.
is not a big deal.
Before an angry mob of Planned Parenthood educators gathers
under my window, let me get this on the record: In the STD
galaxy, HPV is a supernova. Twenty million Americans are currently
infected with HPV, and every year 6 million more Americans
contract one of the more than 100 different known strains
of the virus. According to the Centers for Disease Control
and Prevention, 50 percent of sexually active men and women
acquire genital HPV infection at some point during their lives.
By age 50, at least 80 percent of women will have acquired
HPV infection. Some strains of HPV—AKA the human papillomavirus—can
lead to cancer of the cervix, vulva, anus, or penis; other
strains can result in unpleasant and unsightly warts on cocks,
balls, pussy flaps, asslips, etc., and condoms offer only
So where do I get off saying that HPV is no big deal? Because
in the vast and overwhelming majority of cases, WAW, men and
women with HPV show no symptoms, never develop a single genital
wart, and don’t come down with cancer of the stanky stuff.
And while we once thought that HPV was like herpes—i.e., once
a person is infected he’s infected and infectious forever—
we now know, as the wonks at the CDC put it, “ . . . most
people who become infected with HPV [will] clear the infection
on their own.”
So should you have sex with this girl? If you’ve been fucking
other women without protection, well, odds are good that you’ve
been exposed to HPV already. But even if you have sex with
this girl and contract HPV, the odds that you will screw up
your penis forever are slight. Sex always carries some risk,
WAW, and when the risk is slight and the reward is great most
adults go for it.
Finally, when I say that HPV isn’t that big a deal I don’t
mean to imply that people shouldn’t seek treatment if they
have warts or inform their sex partners if they know they’re
infected. Women, in particular, have to be vigilant. If you’re
a sexually active woman, assume you have HPV and get annual
Pap tests. Every year in the United States more than 12,000
women are diagnosed with cervical cancer and 4,100 women die
of the disease, according to the American Cancer Society.
Most of these cancers are caused by “high-risk” strains of
HPV, and early detection through Pap tests of cervical cancer
saves lives. According to the CDC, most women who develop
invasive cervical cancer have not had regular cervical cancer
screenings. Don’t let that happen to you, ladies.
I had a hysterectomy last year as a result of cervical
dysplasia caused by HPV infection. My doctor said that I had
had the virus for years, and that it generally takes that
long to get to this point. I’ve never had the warts or anything.
About two months ago I spent a week knocking boots with a
friend. He knew I had had the hysterectomy, and he knew why.
Some time later he slept with another girl. She discovered
last week that she has cervical dysplasia. She accused me
of spreading diseases. I explained that I didn’t think she
could have gotten to that point in the space of a month, and
that massive numbers of women have HPV without knowing about
it. Did I give it to her? My doctor says no. My conscience
says no. What’s the deal?
another “no” for your collection, E: “It takes months to years
to go from HPV infection to cervical changes,” said Deborah
Oyer, Medical Director of Seattle’s Aurora Medical Services,
which provides full-spectrum women’s health care. “I can’t
imagine a woman getting HPV and in four weeks’ time progressing
to cervical dysplasia,” which is the appearance of funky,
potentially pre-cancerous cells on the cervix. “I would absolve
Elsewhere,” Oyer continued, “but I can’t say she’s not contagious.
If she still has HPV in her system, she could be contagious.”
Oh, and while we’re on the subject of HPV . . . Researchers
have been hard at work on two vaccines for HPV, vaccines that
could save thousands of women’s lives. In clinical trials
the vaccines have prevented 90 percent of new HPV infections.
Good news, huh? Not for the religious right. Bridget Maher
of the Family Research Council told New Scientist magazine
that “giving the HPV vaccine to young women could be potentially
harmful, because they may see it as a license to engage in
While the religious right’s war on gay people gets all the
headlines, their war on straight rights gains ground daily.
They’ve destroyed sex education in this country, undermined
abortion rights, and successfully prevented emergency contraception
from being made available over the counter. Now they’re going
to block the HPV vaccine. Why? Because the American Taliban
would rather see sexually active women dead than vaccinated.
Hello, straight people? If you don’t want to live in a world
where you need a license from the likes of Bridget Maher to
have sex, premarital or otherwise, you had better start speaking
up. Most of you seem content to merely rubberneck while gay
people have the shit kicked out of us, and while that’s maddening,
I suppose it’s understandable. It’s not your fight. But what
explains your passivity when your own rights are being attacked?
I contracted my first STD: gonorrhea. I got treated and
I’m fine. My concern is about the guy who gave it to me. If
he were just a random trick, I’d forget about it. But he’s
actually a nice guy. Should I tell him? If so, any suggestions
on how I go about telling him?
a chance this nice guy may not know he has gonorrhea, GB.
If a guy’s cock is infected, he’ll usually experience a burning
sensation during urination and discharge pus; if his ass is
infected, his asshole will be coated with pus. But a man can
have a gonorrhea infection in his throat without experiencing
any symptoms at all; on rare occasions gonorrhea in the dick
or butt is also asymptomatic. If he has gonorrhea and doesn’t
know it, he needs to seek treatment before he infects anyone
else or before his infection spreads to his bloodstream and
wreaks havoc on his joints, skin, and heart. So tell him.
How do you tell him? Try this: “After we slept together I
came down with gonorrhea and I’m pretty sure I got it from
you. I’m not angry and I swear to God I won’t gossip about
this and I don’t think any less of you as a person. I’m calling
because I care about your health. Please go see a doctor.”
If he really is a nice guy, GB, he’ll thank you. If he reacts
badly, well, then he’s not a nice guy. But you can take comfort
in the fact that you are.