HPV positive without sexual experience


I feel a bit strange writing this, but I’m confused, anxious, and needing a bit of clarity and reassurance.

I’ve had my cervical screening results back today, and am totally thrown by an HPV positive result (no cell abnormalities). This is my second screening (previous one 3 years ago, possibly under the old system?), and that one came back completely clear.

I scheduled my screening because it was due, but honestly expected the result to be a nice reassuring negative for HPV—mostly because I’ve not had any kind of sexual contact with anyone (penetrative, oral, or otherwise). Ever. I’m in my early thirties so it’s a bit awkward to say, but there you go.

Has anyone else had a similar experience with a positive test without sexual contact? Or does the screening ever give positives for other strains of HPV that are not transmitted through sexual/close contact? I assume it only checks for the ‘high risk’ strains? I just don’t understand where the HPV has come from. (I suppose it doesn’t matter really, but it just taken me by surprise.)

I’d even been thinking of getting the HPV vaccine privately, but now I’m wondering if that’s pointless.

I know that people usually clear HPV virus naturally and this shouldn’t be overly worrying by itself. But I experience health anxiety and had already been worrying about some abdominal pains (have seen GP), so this on top has really got me in an anxious mess. Which I know is probably not helping my immune system either!

If anyone has any similar experience or insight, I’d really appreciate it.


Hi @rachel34

All HPV strains are contracted by some kind of skin contact with an infected person but the smear can pick up both, if a low one is picked up the smear is negative as theres basically no risk of CC, the main cause is skin to skin i.e sex/sexual contact as its spread more easily but there are other ways… the virus can live on surfaces/objects and body parts, for example same sex couples who share sex toys can contract it in that way, sitting naked on a bench in the changing rooms at the swimming baths, towel sharing, someone touching a surface etc etc those are just for instance as there are many other ways, but there does need to be contact with an actively infected person whether direct or indirect to contract it

Its also possible that it could be a false positive, as accurate as the tests are nothing is 100% xx

This is interesting because the sti clinic said categorically thst it csnnot be spread other than skin-to-skin. So not through surfaces or some of the scenarios you said. I was concerned about my son catching it from me, my skin or household objects, the bathroom for example, especially as I have warts strains too. I’d hate for him to get it. I’m careful and wash my hands carefully and disinfect the bathroom daily, and we use separate towels… but I still worry about transmission.

Yeah that is interesting lol i was told by a nurse at my GP lol i was worried i would pass it to my daughter lol although its supposed to be rare to contract it in those ways as the contact needs to be within a very short space of time like minutes i was told its still possible, verucas are caused by the HPV virus and those are spread by someone infected walking bare footed then another person walks on the same surface bare footed theyre likely to have that strain of HPV on the bottom of their feet and get a veruca, she just said HPV is HPV direct or indirect contact can spread it x

Very interesting! Several health professionals told me it’s not possible because I asked if I caught it from the colposcopy clinic (I had a negative hpv test last year. I had bleeding earlier this year and went for a colposcopy- all fine. Two months later I had high and low risk hpv…)

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I would raise this with your gp. It may also be worth repeating the test for hpv. You can get a swab from superdrug, they post it to you, you post it back.

All tests can have false positives and false negatives, and search as I might it’s hard to find a straight answer on the specificity of hpv tests.

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That’s very interesting, because I just read a womens health article that mentioned ways hpv can be contracted other than sex, including dirty gym surfaces and through clinics. The same way the hpv virus from a plantar wart can be spread and contracted through the ground or shower floor. The virus sheds, so this seems plausible to me at least.

I would ask your gp how one strain of hpv can spread through surfaces, but other strains can’t? Seems inconsistent.

I agree. I think it is possible but every health professional haa been adamant that it’s not and that I am unduly worrying about transmitting it to household contacts. I believe that this comes from the idea it is an sti. If you add in the shame and stigma that can come with the genital warts strain of hpv, then suddenly you have a lot of customers who are desperate and will try a lot of products to get rid of it. There’s a vested interest for companies if it is not considered as a common virus like any other.

Definitely not simply an sti, though it is a way to get it. It is common and I agree you shouldn’t worry about passing it to someone in your house. 90% of people clear hpv just fine on their own without any intervention. Do you know which strain(s) you have?

I have the wart strains and high risk ones… actually the wart one causes me the most anxiety and makes me feel quite gross. Treating it has been expensive and painful and hasn’t worked. I would hate to pass it on. I’ve got hpv 6, 54, 56, 58.

Sorry to hear that. I know it’s so much to take in and process! I’m doing the same. I also have 56 and 58, but am not sure what these ones cause. I’ve only learned some strains can support cancer causing strains. Which it is a super positive thing you don’t have 16 & 18. (I have 14 strains, including cancer causing). I’m still learning, but it is encouraging our bodies can clear these infections through strengthening our immune systems. Hope you get some peace about this for yourself and your family.

Scratch that, I just read about 56 and 58 being cancer causing. Shows how much there is to learn! I feel overwhelmed learning about all these strains. Glad we have this community to learn with and support each other. :sparkling_heart:

Different types of virus will favour infecting different parts of the body e.g. Your feet, and not other parts. That does not mean that a type of virus that causes warts on your hands, and can be picked up from surfaces, means a different virus strain can be picked up in the same way and infect other parts of your body.

Listen to your doctors when they tell you how it spreads. I would tell your doctor you have never had any sort of sexual experience. There is no shame in opting not to have sex, just as ther isn’t, or shouldn’t be, for having lots of sex.

If they won’t repeat the test at the surgery, I would personally order an hpv test online from superdrug, post it back and confirm whether it is a false positive. No test is infallible. They all have false positive and negative rates.

It is weird. From my belief yoy cant get hpv if you never ever had sexual contact. However just once in your life could do it and lay dormant i. Immune. I was hpv neg then got neiroendocrine cervical cancer which they say is likely hpv… Its a grey area for me too as some sites say this type is unrelated to small cell nueroendocri e rare. Where as normal cervical…is hpv related. So?? I have no answers either… But try not to worry there are different strai s anyway of hpv. Xx