Sexpert Q&A: Can I Get HPV if My Girlfriend Had It?

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Hi Dr. Yvonne, If my girlfriend had HPV and had her precancerous cells removed by laser treatment, does she still have it? Can I still get the virus?

Al, Human Papilloma Virus (HPV), a.k.a. genital warts, is a viral infection. This means that your partner will always have the virus. Unlike bacterial or parasitic STDs (sexually transmitted diseases), a sexually transmitted infection that's a virus cannot be cured. So she will always be a carrier. And in some ways, you're fortunate to know her health status as far as protecting yourself. Some people are carriers, but never show symptoms. So they don't even know that they have the virus to pass on to others. Some people, on the other hand, only have an outbreak or two, while some may have several over a lifetime, depending on how they're taking care of their health with things like diet and stress management.

Even though your girlfriend has had the precancerous cells - removed - if you are sexually intimate, you are at risk for being infected. What makes HPV more difficult than the other STDs when it comes to transmission is that it can be spread through simple skin-on-skin contact. Using a condom helps to reduce the risk of HPV, but is limited in not covering the entire groin.

Dr. Yvonne KristAn Fulbright is a sex educator, relationship expert, columnist and founder of

Sexuality Source Inc.

She is the author of several books including, "Touch Me There! A Hands-On Guide to Your Orgasmic Hot Spots."