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Hi and thanks for your question.

First off I want to tell you about how viruses work. Once you are infected with a virus your body makes antibodies to fight the virus and keep it from being active in your body. Those antibodies are always ready in case that virus, which isn't gone just inactive, should decide to become active again. Therefore, once you are infected with a virus, you cannot be reinfected with that same virus.

With regard to the HPV virus, there are many different strains and the high risk strains are the ones that are more concerning for women because they are associated with cervical dysplasia and cervical cancer. If you and your partner have had unprotected intercourse it is likely that you both have the same strains of HPV. At this point you are not reinfecting one another. If you were to become sexually active with another partner, you could become infected with a different strain of HPV that you have not already been exposed to.

At this point you need to do things to help your body and your immune system get the virus in control. The top two things that you can do are to not smoke and not use oral contraceptives.

The risk factors for developing HPV related cervical dysplasia are:
Oral contraceptive use
Early onset of sexual intercourse (before age 16)
Multiple sexual partners
Unprotected sex and condom use (condoms are only 70% effective against HPV exposure)
Uncircumcised males
Multiple pregnancies
Chlamydia infection
Herpes infection
Low socioeconomic status
Screening Pap smears (lack of)

I want to give you some information about birth control and HPV.

There is emerging evidence in the literature regarding the correlation between hormonal contraception and cervical dysplasia.

The risk for developing cervical cancer with less than 5 years of hormonal contraceptive use is 10%
With 5-9 years of use the risk increases to 60%
With 10 years of use the risk increases to 120%

The risk declines after discontinuing hormonal contraception and by 10 or more years the risk returns to that of someone who has never used hormonal contraception.
Bottom line is that with increased use of hormonal contraception there is statistically significant risk of developing cervical cancer.

One of the ways in which hormonal contraception impacts HPV and cervical cancer is by increasing estrogen receptor expression in the tissues. HPV 18, one of the strains correlated with cervical dysplasia and cancer, has been shown to directly interact with estrogen receptors whether estrogen was present or not. Also, an in-vitro study showed that estrogen stimulates the growth of HPV positive cervical cancer cells.

January 15, 2010 - 5:13pm


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