The Dark Side of Love

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Just in time for Valentines Day, I feature an exchange I had with an earnest and, I might add, very nervous young man about a prevalent STI. Our friend is freaking out about genital warts.  I know, I’m such a buzz-kill.

 

Name: Ryan
Gender: Male
Age: 20 something
Location: Lowell MA
A few years back, a friend confided that he contracted genital warts from his ex-girl friend. He had the genital warts on his genitals, anus, hands, feet and in his mouth. His ex-girl friend had it on her hands, in her vagina, mouth, anus and cervix. I can understand having it on the genitals and hands and in the anus, mouth and cervix. I didn’t ask how he got it on his feet.
He went to work in another state, but came back here two years later. He told me he liked a girl he met and would like to bring the relationship into a more intimate level. I asked him about his genital warts. He said he was cured of it. I read that genital warts cannot be cured. That it can be treated, but will remain incurable and contagious although dormant for a while.
Will the girl get it after they had sex? My friend comes to my house very often, drinks beer with my girl friend and me. He uses the bathroom and the hand towel. Even after scrubbing the bathroom and washing the hand towel, can my girl friend and I get the genital warts? As for my friend, was he condemned not to have sex for life? Or, is it safe to have sex if there was no outbreak or external signs?

I’ve seen several bad cases of genital warts, but never a case that included hands feet and mouth. I know that’s possible, of course, but I’ve never seen it. And without a doctor’s diagnosis, a particular outbreak could be something else. That’s why, something like this, needs to be diagnosed and treated properly.

the dark side of love

You are right; technically genital warts remain incurable, though non-contagious, and dormant if treated correctly. And proper treatment is the key. For more information you might consult WebMD.

Casual contact, the kind you describe below — bathroom, towels, etc. — cannot pass on the virus. Transmission is dependent on intimate genital contact. Does your friend (or his GF) have an outbreak going on now? Can you see something on his (her) hands and face?

     I know my friend is a responsible person and he will not knowingly infect me with his genital warts. But, how can he be sure that the wart is dormant and non-contagious? I am now wary because he told me his genital warts were cured. This makes me wonder whether he was given the wrong medical advice or he was just trying to put my mind at ease. Aside from using the bathroom and towels, he also eats dinner at my home and could infect my dishes, utensils, cloth napkins, etc. and pass the virus to me and my girl friend.
This matter has the potential of becoming a dilemma for me and my friendship with him. I don’t want to ask him details such as who is his doctor, what kind of treatment he is getting (it seems the infected person must be tested periodically and the treatment ongoing) and how is he going to determine when he is not contagious. He is a sensitive person and I know that he will get angry if I asked him these questions. I can make excuses not to see him at my house (this only goes so far). If I ask or make excuses, I’d lose his friendship. I don’t want to lose him as a friend. But, I don’t want him to infect me and my girl friend with the virus either, knowingly or unknowingly.
I don’t see any warts on his hands and on his feet (he wears sandals sometimes). I don’t know if he plans to tell the girl he plans to get intimate with.
My girl friend doesn’t know about this. She will freak out if I tell her and that will cause more problems. Help!!!???!!!

If I were you I would ask him about the treatment he received for his warts. That would put your mind at ease. Besides, your friendship sounds like it’s on the brink anyway. And here’s a tip: you probably have lots of casual contact with many other people with genital warts without even knowing it — it’s a very common malady.

     Thank you very much. I think he should also tell the girl about his genital warts before having sex with her. She must be given the option to reject or accept it. I also read that the virus can be passed just with skin-to-skin contact when there is a flare up. Is this true?
I feel bad about this. Although my friend is a responsible person, there is still a chance he could get carried away in the heat of passion and throw precaution and caution to the wind.
I imagine it is difficult to enjoy sex when you have to do and think of many things that could go wrong.      Giving him my sympathy will not help. He alone has the burden of doing what has to be done before having sex to prevent contaminating his girl friend or spreading he genital warts around.
I will appreciate any additional information/clarification/advice you can give me about this.
Thank you again for your help.

Again, genital warts, like herpes, are contagious only when there’s a flair-up. Skin to skin contact can pass the virus at that point. Also, like herpes, if the genital wart virus has been treated, the likelihood of passing on the virus is negligible.

I am of the mind that we all ought to be responsible and up-front with our sex partners about any health related issues that may impact on the health of our partners.

Good luck

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