Talking about HPV


Dear Meredith,

I am 25 years old and had my first abnormal pap smear a few months ago. I was informed that I am positive for a high-to-medium-risk, cancer-causing form of HPV and have CIN1, the lowest grade of changes in cervical cells caused by HPV. I broke up with my boyfriend about half a year ago and have been single since. I have already informed my ex-boyfriend of my status and he was both supportive and understanding.

My questions is, how should I handle dating knowing that I am infected with a very common STI? When is the most appropriate time to discuss STD status when dating? What is the best way to talk about HPV in particular, since many people are still uneducated on it? Is it unreasonable to request printed recent test results indicating STD status? I read for CIN1 there is a 70 to 80 percent likelihood of the virus clearing up in two years. Should I just abstain from sex and wait the two years out for the hope that it will go away on its own?


Don't stop dating. Bring it up when you'd start talking about sex anyway.

When would you discuss protection or, if it's important to you, exclusivity? When would you chat about sleeping over? Work it in then. Just say, "Hey, just to let you know ..." and leave it at that. If you want to talk about a partner's test history, that's the time to request information.

So many people have or know someone with HPV that it's no longer a shocking conversation. If a potential partner looks confused or concerned, feel free to offer up information. Sometimes people are afraid to speak up, but if you're comfortable, they should be, too.

Again, adults have to talk about this stuff all the time. It's not fun — but it's not unusual.

— Meredith

Readers? How should she bring this up? What about requesting printed test results?