Yet I still remember hiding behind my hair as I told him what it meant, and how the last thing I wanted was to expose him to the same nagging risk—the risk of warts, of passing it on, of shame.I remember how my fingers toyed with the holes at the hem of my shirt.Like waves crashing against a seawall, my desire collided with the barrier of my still-hidden illness. No question, this was when I would have to tell him."This is the coolest date-and-a-half I've ever had," Mike said that evening. Even though HPV is commonplace, that doesn't make it palatable, especially with a cancer warning attached.Low-risk HPV causes benign infections such as genital warts.High-risk HPV is associated with a variety of genital and non-genital cancers.Up in his apartment, I excused myself to go to the bathroom and practiced my not-about-to-cry look in the mirror. In fact, the outcome that came to pass was the only one I hadn't allowed myself to imagine.Then I crossed the living room and sat next to him on the couch. "I have to talk to you." He nodded as my confession tumbled out. Now that we're engaged, I think of that night with Mike often. My HPV hasn't interfered with my ability to have kids, so the only question now is when.
I'd comb straightening serum into my hair and swab shadow onto my eyelids. I had to hum to drown out the sound of my gynecologist snipping off bits of my cervix with long, snub-nosed scissors.I'd wear a shirt that didn't have holes in it, at the very least. In the seven days until each of my test results came back negative, purple shadows formed under my eyes and I bit my nails down to the quick. It's a disease, one with symptoms that range from embarrassing to deadly—in some cases, genital warts; for high-risk strains, the possibility of cervical cancer. It was the day after my 24th birthday, and I shivered on the examination table, a paper gown across my lap, clenching my knees together as my cheeks flushed red. For weeks after my diagnosis, I wallowed in a sullen bog.Therefore, you may still be infectious after your warts are gone. Unfortunately, there is no commercial HPV test that can show when you have cleared the infection. However, these tests are primarily used to detect high-risk virus in cervical samples.The only surefire way to avoid genital warts is to abstain from sexual intercourse.