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Got an ache or pain? Have a question about a prescription or over-the-counter drug? Looking for some FREE medical advice?
Question:
When I was six months old I had gential warts, can you get these with out sexual intercourse because no one knows how I got them.
Anya O'Connell
Answer:
Dear Anya,
Warts are caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV). There are more than 80 types of HPV. Approximately 30 types are associated with genital infection, most commonly HPV types 6,11,16,18,31 and 33.
HPV is passed through close physical (skin to skin) contact. In the case of genital warts the contact is almost always genital. Transmission of warts to the genitals from other sites on the skin is very unusual, and the risk of 'vertical transmission'' from mother to child during childbirth is very low.
The incubation period for warts is usually 3-18 months but can be longer. Many people infected with genital wart virus will never develop visible warts but can still transmit the virus. It is therefore not possible to identify the source of infection in most cases of genital warts.
External genital warts are most commonly caused by HPV types 6 and 11, which do not cause genital or anal cancers. However several types of HPV may cause 'dysplasia ' of the cervix, which can progress over the years to cervical cancer. Screening programmes for women of reproductive age (the cervical smear test) detects dysplasia at an early stage so that it can be treated.
The viruses causing dysplasia rarely cause visible warts. Treatment aims to eradicate visible warts. It is not possible with currently available therapies to guarantee to eradicate the virus so patients may remain infectious in the absence of visible warts.
So, Anya, what does this mean for you?
Perhaps you are an example of the rare case of transmission of wart virus from the hands of a carer, or from your mother at birth. Genito-genital contact with babies would constitute child abuse; unfortunately such things do happen. Or perhaps the diagnosis of genital warts when you were 6 months old was incorrect?
If you are concerned at any time that you are at risk of sexually transmitted diseases, go to one of the excellent clinics that can test for and treat STDs, such as the International SOS, Moscow, Tel 937 5760. And remember: practice SAFER SEX! A condom offers very good protection.
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