HPV positive and confused

I am a 42 year old mother of three. 6 months ago I had a Pap smear and an HPV test as I hadn’t had a checkup since my youngest child was born in 2015.

The result came back with HPV16 positive and ASCUS.
I refused to believe my result as I was last sexually active nearly 7 years ago. I also had taken 3 doses of Gardasil 9 a few years prior.

I had a colposcopy and the result came back normal, which is a relief for now.

The clinic called me for one more HPV test a few weeks ago, and to my shock it came back positive with HPV16 and HPV 68.

I am confused and scared and depressed. I don’t know for how long I’ve had the viruses, I don’t know why I’ve had a second HPV show on my result despite the fact that not only have I been vaccinated, but also inactive for years. How is that possible?

Any insight could help me at this point as I’m in a really bad place emotionally and mentally. The big C is my biggest fear in life after having witnessed the suffering of loved ones. I can’t think straight, I need answers, I need peace of mind.

Hi Kay,

I’m sorry to hear how stressed you are about this.

You may find the below HPV question and answer page helpful:
https://www.chop.edu/centers-programs/vaccine-education-center/questions-answers-about-hpv-and-vaccine

I came across the page this morning and it answers lots of questions so may include answers to yours.

I believe that you can contract a strain of HPV, test negative for it but then still test positive for it again many years after the original infection which may be what has happened to you.

I’ve had the Gardasil 9 vaccination this morning and although it should protect most people from contracting the 9 strains that it covers, the leaflet does say that it doesn’t protect everyone from those 9 strains unfortunately.

The vast majority of people who contract a strain of HPV will clear the infection within 2 years, before cell changes develop. You’re therefore most likely to get rid of the infection before it has time to cause pre-cancerous and then cancerous changes however even if you’re someone who takes longer to clear the infection, you’re likely to have more regular check ups now that HPV has been detected. That should mean that any cell changes should be caught at a pre-cancerous stage and treated before they can ever develop into cancer x

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Thank you so much Jennnyy for taking the time to respond. I am prone to anxiety and having received unexpectedly bad news hasn’t helped at all.
I am also sad and slightly angry that my sex life has been idle for long years yet I have to deal with HPV. Not that people who are sexually active should be dealing with HPV, but I feel it’s too unfair I’m too unlucky :frowning:
and I’m obviously scared that I’ve probably had the virus for too long.

Thank you so much for sharing the link. I will read on. Also well done on taking the vaccine, and wish you all the best.

Hi,
I’m 41, mother of one. Last year my cervical screening came back normal. This year, I had genital warts appear which was a shock. I paid for a private test and it came back with hpv 6, 54, 56, 58. All within a year. I was confused.

I think there are three possibilities in my case:

  1. that I caught it from a medical setting. The warts appeared two months after I had a colposcopy to investigate bleeding. I wonder if I caught it from the clinic
  2. my last partner. He had never had symptoms of warts though and nor did his previous long term partner.
  3. that I’d caught it in the past and never had symptoms until now. I have read that hpv can be detected again in perimenopause because of immune system changes, and I wonder if that is the case with me.

Having warts AND high risk hpv is really getting me down. Four strains! I havent been promiscuous and it feels unlucky that maybe I’ve had it a long time and unable to clear it completely. I don’t know the likelihood of clearing it now. In a way, looking for answers is a bit pointless but just wanted to say I understand your frustration.

Thank you so much for sharing your story. You’re not the only one and neither am I apparently.
I am sorry you have to go through this. I know how stressful and emotionally draining this can be. Wish you lots of courage and lots of strong immunity.

Though it is very frustrating that we don’t know when, how and for how long we had the virus, I agree with you that it’s pointless to keep chasing an explanation. I feel I need to channel my energy now, lots of it, to be able to put my anxiety under control before I drive myself insane. Sigh.

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