Sexuality

  • What if my partner has Human Papillomavirus (HPV)? Am I at higher risk of getting HPV, genital warts or cervical cancer?

    The Human Papillomavirus is the name for a group of viruses, with at least forty types that can be sexually transmitted. This type of HPV is called genital HPV and it is the most common sexually transmitted disease today.

    Genital HPV is very seldom symptomatic, so most people will not know that they have it unless they develop genital warts or cervical cancer from it. It is important to know that there is no cure for genital HPV at this time, and someone can contract more than one strain of the HPV. For that reason, prevention is a critical topic for men and women who are sexually active, to discuss and consider. Individuals with HPV may be contagious at any time and the presence of symptoms is not necessary to to present a risk of infection to others. This is particularly important for individuals living with CML or other illnesses that may interfere with normal immune functioning.

    In most cases, the patient in active treatment for CML with a tyrosine kinase inhibitor, is at risk for contracting HPV at the same degree as other healthy individuals in the population.  If the CML patient’s lab work is normal, if his or her immune system is healthy and if he or she plans to continue treatment everyday, there should be no increased risk to him or her beyond that of the average population. But remember, HPV is the most common sexually transmitted disease, with approximately 20 million people in America ages 15 - 49 affected. 

    Once you have been diagnosed with HPV, it is important to understand that there is no cure. HPV can cause genital warts, cervical cancer and anal cancer. Please be vigilant in seeking care for yourself on a regular basis. It is critical to your health.

    Until such time as a cure can be found, it is important to use condoms/barriers when having any form of sexual contact, to prevent exposure for yourself, and to prevent you or your partner from contracting a different strain of the HPV.

    For more information about the Human Papillomavirus and genital warts, consider the following link: http://womenshealth.gov/publications/our-publications/fact-sheet/human-papillomavirus.pdf