My girlfriend apparently has a strain of HPV that is "high-risk" for cervical cancer. I have performed oral sex on her and am now concerned about the possibility of contracting this virus. I did not understand the level of risk until researching online.
My understanding is that HPV-16 drastically increases the risk of oral cancer in men. Right now I don't know what number she has, but she is going to find out.
I am also concerned because I had a small cut in my mouth at the time.
We are in a committed relationship, and I believe that the only way to avoid HPV all-together is to abstain from any genital contact whatsoever. Am I putting myself at risk if we continue this activity? Am I already at risk?
Is there any information about the chances of transmission, or the chances that an infection will lead to oral cancer?
Per transmission, HPV is passed through skin-to-skin contact, so the cut you had in your mouth at the time doesn't really impact your level of risk. Unfortunately, I can't find any research which shows how much of a risk you may be looking at, but it is possible that you have been infected already.
However, it's important to know that much of the time, even the "high-risk" strains of HPV do not lead to cancer. Often, the virus is shed and the infection clears itself; the best thing you can do to reduce your risks from now on is to use latex barriers for all kinds of sex. That means condoms for intercourse, and dental dams or condoms for oral sex. While barriers don't eliminate the risk of transmitting HPV (and are less effective because it is transmitted through skin-to-skin contact, not body fluids) they still reduce the risk by a significant amount.
You may also want to consider asking your doctor if the HPV vaccine is a good idea for you: Gardasil was developed for women, but it's been approved for use in men as well, and some reproductive health experts are now recommending that all young people, regardless of gender, be vaccinated.
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