October 2017
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I have HPV (as if I needed more stress)


icon: "overwhelmed (the character Keenan from "Playing By Heart," with hands over their face covering their eyes and head tilted back)"

I went to the doctor today about a lump on my genitals. The good news: it's not cancer. The bad news: it's HPV.

I only this year learned about HPV. I knew it existed before, but I thought it was checked for on the standard set of STI tests. Nope. There are 100+ strains of HPV, so there is no test to prove someone does NOT have HPV (as they'd have to test for all strains), and most people who have it don't have symptoms. Also, it is spread through skin-to-skin contact, so even using barriers and taking caution with sexual fluids won't prevent catching it (though it will reduce the likelihood of course). "HPV is so common that most sexually-active men and women will get at least one type of HPV at some point in their lives." Oh, and the strains that can cause cancer and other serious problems do NOT cause visible symptoms.

So, I could have gotten this from any of my partners, or I might have contracted it as a child enduring sexual abuse and just never had symptoms until now (when my immune system is low from extreme & prolonged stress). I feel incredibly unlucky. Most people with herpes don't have symptoms and most people with HPV don't have symptoms, but I got both. And all the people out there with HPV and no symptoms don't have to deal with stigma. It's really fucking unfair that people are going to think of me as undesirable because I'm one of the few that got visible symptoms, noticed them, had them checked, and will be honest about it.

It wasn't too hard to find out the best way to manage herpes: if you're not having an active outbreak, infection is unlikely if you use barriers and take caution not to swap fluids. I can't find a good source on the best way to avoid transmitting HPV because everything I find is like "spread by skin-to-skin contact" with no specifics and I'm pretty sure that there is risky contact and non-risky contact but there is no fucking information. I imagine the only skin that is likely to spread genital HPV is on your crotch and thighs. HPV doesn't seem to have a outbreak-vs-non-outbreak difference. So I suppose the new precaution I have to add is to not let people touch my thighs without having the STI conversation.

Six years ago when I got herpes and posted about it someone who was 'concerned' about me (ha) told me I should never have sex again. Now that I have another fucking STI, I'm well and truly a pariah. Not that it would be terrible for me to never use my physical genitals in sex again. They're not that important to me. But they tend to be important to other people. And the idea that people would rule me out as a romantic partner because of STIs... I just find that so gross and I wish I didn't have to think about it. It's upsetting even if I wouldn't want to be romantic with them anyway.

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Comments
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feladrone ══╣╠══
Ugh, I'm so sorry you're dealing with this, on top of everything else you have going on.

It's so unfair that people treat herpes like such a terrible thing when it's really not a big deal. From what I've read, it's one of the easiest STD's to manage, so it shouldn't matter very much.
belenen ══╣honesty╠══
thank you.
xxmadsenxx ══╣╠══

I'm really sorry you have to deal with all of this. :\

belenen ══╣honesty╠══
thank you
meteorology ══╣╠══
Just wanted to express my sympathy and say that I'm sorry you're having such a rough time at the moment.
belenen ══╣gentle╠══
thank you
redbird ══╣╠══
On the other hand, what you know here is that this is almost certainly not medically serious (since the strains that cause cancer don't produce visible symptoms). Since most such infections go away on their own, a retest once the lump has gone away might be reassuring. ("I want you to know that I had a wart three years ago from HPV, but I was tested when the lump went away and no longer have the virus" may get different reactions than "I want you to know that I have one of the less-dangerous strains of HPV.")
queerbychoice ══╣╠══
Yes - I second this. HPV very often goes away, so you can be retested and tell people you don't have it anymore (not this particular strain, anyway, and nobody who's ever had sex can know for sure that they don't have any strain at all).

Take care, be kind to yourself, and you'll get through this. <3
belenen ══╣╠══
belenen ══╣╠══
kmiotutsie ══╣╠══
Hi darling :) I don't want to minimize your concerns at all, but HPV is no big deal. I have had it myself-- it's absurdly common; one of those things that practically everyone has and you either know it or don't. I got one pap smear and got told I had it (probably 2006 or something), then when I went in for my next pap smear (a year or so later) it was gone. I know our bodies are different and deal with things differently, but I'm 90% certain yours will go away in time, and I hope my story offers some comfort to you!
belenen ══╣garrulous╠══
That is reassuring, thank you for sharing!
ghostwriter ══╣╠══
belenen ══╣garrulous╠══
*nods* wow, that one is so easy to test for now, at least where I live. There's a test you can do that literally takes one drop of blood and 15 minutes, and many places offer it for free. Is it harder to get tested for HIV where you are?
ghostwriter ══╣╠══
ragnarok_08 ══╣AoT ★ in stillness╠══
I'm so sorry that you're dealing with all of this :(
belenen ══╣honesty╠══
thank you
fairytaleguise ══╣╠══
I'm sorry you're dealing with all this.
belenen ══╣honesty╠══
thank you
wolfteaparty ══╣╠══
I'm so sorry you're dealing with this. You're definitely not alone. This has happened to multiple people in my life (and their sex lives continued and they did not become pariahs). I was also possibly exposed to this type of HPV myself, and while I never developed symptoms, I did warn potential sexual partners about it just to be on the safe side. It didn't scare any of them away.
belenen ══╣honesty╠══
Thank you, that is reassuring to know.
b00kl0ver ══╣╠══
belenen ══╣honesty╠══
*accepts and hugs back* thank you
kiwi ══╣╠══
I just wanted to let you know that you're in my thoughts. And I'm sorry to hear about the added stressor - you absolutely do not need this now.
belenen ══╣honesty╠══
thank you *hearts* I think my immune system is weak because of the stress right now *sigh*
zimtkeks ══╣╠══
Oh no, I'm sorry you have to deal with this!
And I hope your doctor can help you with some information.
belenen ══╣honesty╠══
thank you
meri_sielu ══╣magpie/crow friends╠══
That is not a nice thing to be dealing with, I'm sorry *hugs*
belenen ══╣artless╠══
*hugs back*
br0ken_dolly ══╣╠══
ugh, that sounds so stressful.

i'm chiming in with another "HPV is NBD" story: ever since i was a child, i would very severely bite the insides of my cheeks (usually it was entirely accidental, probably due to TMJ, but it also happens due to anxiety). after years and years of doing this, i eventually ended up with scar tissue (or so i thought) that wouldn't heal up, and i had a lump inside my cheek (which of course was easy to bite when eating/breathing/sneezing/existing). i finally saw a dentist who was concerned, and suggested that removing my wisdom teeth would help, since those were the teeth doing all the cheek-biting. the oral surgeon who removed them also removed the lump and did a biopsy, and found it was HPV. the surgeon also said that nearly everyone's been exposed to some strain of HPV, regardless of whether or not they have symptoms, and it may have just happened from the constant trauma i inflicted on my cheeks over the years, on top of being sick all the time as a kid, and living in a world with many HPV strains.

i actually thought this was a thing that was tested for regularly, too. live and learn.

it's been about 4 years since then, and i've been fortunate not to have any more lumps, even though i still violently accidentally bite my cheeks (about half as much as i used to).

i do hope you're feeling better, and i feel your frustration.
belenen ══╣honesty╠══
I'm glad the accidental cheek-biting has decreased, that sounds so painful! And thank you for the reassurance *hearts*
(Anonymous) ══╣╠══
"I feel incredibly unlucky."

Luck has nothing to do with it when you're promiscuous...and I think you know that perfectly well. Stop making excuses when it's obvious you're mad at yourself and your poor choices.
belenen ══╣giggling╠══
lolz, like promiscuous is a thing. I'm not remotely mad at myself. Fuck off with your projecting. Clearly you don't believe what you're saying since you aren't even willing to claim your own words.
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on communication, social justice, intimacy, consent, friendship & other relationships, spirituality, gender, queerness, & dreams. Expect to find curse words, nudity, (occasionally explicit) talk of sex, and angry ranting, but NEVER slurs or sexually violent language. I use TW when I am aware of the need and on request.
Expect to find curse words, nudity, (occasionally explicit) talk of sex, and angry ranting, but NEVER slurs or sexually violent language. I use TW when I am aware of the need and on request.