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Yeesh it’s finally time to give the dreaded talk. You know the talk. The one where you have to tell your partner that you have HPV. Every time you engage in sexual activity with a new person, you’ll have to disclose this information. Not only to protect them from having HPV but because it’s the right thing to do.
It’s difficult but it’s necessary. Its purpose is to prevent the spread of HPV and protect your partner. Not only can this status cause genital warts but it can result in cervical cancer in women and throat cancer for any gender. Cancer can be deadly so you can see why you are obligated to disclose this information.
We don’t want you to feel guilty or ashamed for having HPV but we do want you to know how to properly disclose your status. The steps are simple and can make this process intimidating. So, how does one disclose their status?
First, you need to talk to your doctor. Get as much resources as you can. You aren’t going to be an expert on HPV but you will be informed enough to answer any and all questions they may they have about this condition. As you are asking questions, think about what is going to prevent the spread of HPV. How is it transmitted? What kind of protection can you use to prevent transmission? How do you know you have it? The most important information that you need to know is how to protect yourself. As a person with HPV, you want to prevent the spread of this condition and protection increases prevention.
Next, we recommend you practice the discussion. Anticipate all outcomes and questions that maybe asked. Think about yourself being in their shoes. Think about how they may feel by hearing this news. HPV can be scary, when you don’t know anything about it. Most people associate HPV with having cancer and genital warts. We think that you should take HPV seriously but it isn’t always a matter of life or death, especially, when both parties are protecting themselves. You also have to consider the negative outcomes. Yes, rejection is a possibility but honesty is better than putting your partner at risk.
Last, you need to make sure all past and present partners are notified of your HPV status. Men are the main source of transmission in heterosexual relationships and homosexuals aren’t immune to developing HPV. Unfortunately, not everyone will receive genital warts. The symptoms can be dormant for years with no test for men to determine whether or not they have it. While the body can cure itself of the infection, you will always have the virus so it’s important that partners get tested for throat, penile and anal cancer. Unfortunately, there isn’t a test for men. There are only cancer screening.
While we understand the difficulty of disclosure, it doesn’t make it any less important. Having the conversation can be the difference between life and death. One less person to potentially face HPV or worse cancer.