True Story: I Have HPV

I met him my first night of college. Although not the fairytale every girl imagines, we hit it off in the basement of a fraternity house. It was a passionate, whirlwind love affair that lasted about a month. Long story short, we don’t speak any more. I took it as a learning experience about relationships and the healing process was not easy.

It was an early morning over winter break when I got the call from my gynecologist. I was expecting the phone call and was prepared for her to tell me that I was perfectly normal and she’ll see me in a year for a checkup. She was reading through the list of diseases saying they all came back negative, until she said, “But, your HPV test came back positive. You have what’s called high risk HPV.” I couldn’t think of anything other than getting out of hearing range of everybody in the house. So, I ran into the kitchen and asked, “What do I do now?” She seemed so calm about the whole situation and just insisted that I make sure to come back in three months for a follow-up appointment, and to call her if I had any questions.

As I hung up the phone my whole first semester flashed through my mind. My birthday, Halloween, my best friends’ birthdays, Thanksgiving, Christmas… I had this disease the entire time. The girl down the hall had supposedly reached the double digit mark for people she had slept with, and I had only been with one person the whole semester. I kept thinking, “Why me?”  But, I already knew the answer. The girl down the hall probably used a condom every time. I remembered all those times when I brushed off the need for a condom because I was on birth control. An 18-year-old would never be able to get an STD, I told myself, especially when she only chooses to have sex with the “good” guys. But, it happened and I realized that I was not invincible, like I thought I was.



  1. Jenna says:

    Wow, so sorry for you. Good for you for writing this article, I'm sure articles like this really do get the message across that this can happen to anyone. It seems though that you have a responsibility to try and contact this guy and let him know.

  2. Lyndsay says:

    "The girl down the hall probably used a condom every time." Please know that condoms do NOT always protect against HPV. It can be transmitted through other areas of the genitals that a condom does NOT cover. I have never had sex without a condom, and I got diagnosed with HPV 2 years ago. I, too, felt completely alone and ashamed. I had to tell my boyfriend, even though there's no guarantee I didn't have this disease for years before it showed up. Mine was very high-risk, and I underwent surgery to hopefully have it removed. Read all you can on it, and try not to worry. I eventually found out that some of my friends had had it too, but were also too ashamed to talk about it. Women need to start talking about HPV. Though it's an STD, it shouldn't be as "shameful" as other infections. Good luck in your waiting game and healing process- and know there are millions of women going through the exact same thing as you.

  3. erika says:

    Keep your head up girl! Thank you for sharing this story, it really didi touch me. My gyn. said that my cells was doing something funny in my cervix and it could be from HPV and they told me to come back next year for my next pap smear so i can see what my cervix is doing next. But i wish u the best of luck and hope u can beat it.

  4. Beth says:

    I got HPV from a boyfriend in college. Although it was awkward, and we were no longer talking, I had to call and tell him he had it in order to protect his future partners. Unfortunately, it turned out that the girl he had been with before me had contracted it too, and did not know it. Hers had developed into very high risk, and she had to have parts of her cervix removed. Had I not told him, and had he not passed the news on to her, she may not have been checked in time and it could have gotten much worse.
    Author of this article–you need to tell the boy you got it from! If, as you suspect, he doesn't know he has it, he is putting others at risk! I know it's tough, but maybe it can save others from going through what you have had to.

  5. Jenna S. says:

    I really don't mean to scare anyone, but my mom was recently diagnosed with cancer of the parotid gland (in her neck), and her doctor told her that head and neck cancers are beginning to be linked to high-risk HPV (like my mom had when she had when she was younger) in addition to cervical cancer.

    She has also had HPV-linked cervical cancer, but because she was very adamant about Pap smears, she caught it very, very early, so it was easy to take care of. The neck just isn't a place you think of as a cancer risk, so the tumor grew unnoticed for quite some time before it was big enough to show up on a dental x-ray. If I've learned anything from my mother, it's that preventive cancer screenings are crucial, and catching cancer early can reduce a potentially deadly situation to something very easy to deal with.

    I'm mentioning this because if there's a link between head and neck cancers and HPV as my mother's oncologist said, then it means that as you age, this will be an important place to get checked as well. It also means that women are the only ones at risk of developing cancer as a result of HPV…the doc actually recommended that my older brother get the vaccine (I already have).

  6. Jenna S. says:

    *Sorry, I meant to say women ARE NOT the only ones at risk.

  7. Niki says:

    Wait….why can't you drink or go out when it's cold?? I've had high-risk HPV for years (FYI snarky Rae…the vaccine wasn't on the market when I was in college. And you can contract HPV while using condoms, so stop being so judgmental.) and my doctor just has me come in for PAPS every 3 or 4 months…she never said a word about not drinking or not going out in the cold and I live in Central NY, where it's cold 9 months out of the year!

    1. Lauren says:

      I believe the reason for this is to keep your immune system in the greatest shape possible

  8. Kyla says:

    the vaccine doesn't cover all strains. ask your doctor

  9. Sam says:

    I'd also like to add that the HPV vaccines like Gardasil don't protect against all strains of the HPV virus. So even if you're vaccinated please remember to play safe!

  10. Tee says:

    I know it's not exactly something to take lightly, and it can be frightening… but you're not dying. You don't need to quarantine yourself. I had HPV, had two colopscopies done, now I'm back to normal pap smear results. Don't panic.

  11. lind says:

    REA before even saying such a rude remark maybe you should of listened to the commercial that says it doesnt prevent all HPV strains. and besides HPV can stay in your system for years before becoming detected……WOW

  12. Dr. says:

    HPV is NOT an STI.
    because the virus is everywhere, including your skin. A penetration would help to get the virus to your cervix, where it might develop to precancerous therefore cancer.
    And it is extremely common. You mention 50%, but actually 90% of people will get HPV, whether or not it develops is another story.

    The best thing to do is to have PAP smear every 2 years if you're sexually active or 2 years after your first intercourse.
    and get the vaccine.

    All the best (:

  13. dan says:

    there is no way to prevent all HPV. anyone can get it, even me, and i've had the vaccine. and the vaccine only covers 3 or 4 strains that are KNOWN to caue cervical cancer.

    so instead of asking why someone wouldnt fucking get the vaccine i suggest you fucking start getting informed.

  14. Emily says:

    you are so rude. this girl is trying to share her story with women to help them protect themselves and you have the nerve to curse at her, and bring her down!? Like the people before me stated the vaccine does not cover all strains, and at the time when i got it was still experimental. the side effects were not completely known and it was still in long time testing, a lot of girls didn't get it because they weren't 100% sure in its safety. So before you judge other people on their health choices you should make sure you have all the facts. I sure hope nothing like this ever happens to you.

  15. sara says:

    There are hundreds of different types of HPV strands, some that cause genital warts and some that can mutate cells so they become abnormal and cancerous. You can have the vaccine and still get HPV… trust me you can because it happened to me.

    Luckily how my doctor explained it to me was that HPV is not necessarily a "linear" disease… it doesn't just keep getting worse and worse down a timeline- it can actually move either direction, it can get worse, but then it can get better, it all depends on your body, immune system, and health. Disappear entirely, well I don't know about that, but I do know I had three abnormal PAPs and then a normal one again.

    Also, the good thing about infections/cancer of the cervix is that it is very slow-developing compared to other cancers, especially in young people. I was getting a PAP every year until the HPV showed up and I got an abnormal one. Then my doctor told me that just to be safe he'd do one every six months instead of a year. Think about it, if a doctor rushed you off for scans or surgery after one abnormal PAP… it doesn't happen that way because those cells take a long time to mutate and form a tumor.

    I'm not trying to downplay the seriousness of this 'disease' but it sounds like you are thinking about it and worrying about it wayyyy too much. Getting HPV is no reason to stop drinking or to not go outside when its cold. It doesn't mean that you have an increased chance of getting sick. It also doesn't mean that if you get a cold that it will develop into cancer. I have it and I don't let it define me at all- to be honest I never even think about it except every six months when I need a PAP. Continue to live your life exactly how you would before, just get checked a little more regularly and until your cells start to mutate and you need a procedure- I think at that point its time to start thinking a little more seriously. But that might not even happen to you. Tons of girls out there have HPV and live perfectly normal lives, I think right now you're freaking out over something that really isn't a threat to you right now.

    1. none says:

      Thank you, as someone who is living with HPV i try to not let this disease reflect the person I am. I regret reading this article because all you did was make those who have it feel worse, when in reality if you get it taken care of , and have hope, you will be okay.

    2. Hailey says:

      Great comment – I also have high-risk HPV (even after only having protected sex) and by no means should it be "downplayed." But I agree that the author is worrying far too much. Right after my diagnosis and biopsy I told myself I wasn't going to drink, ever get sick, do anything risky ever, ever again, but that was entirely unrealistic. It didn't last. My doctor told me that simply keeping my gyno and regular physician appointments and making healthy choices is going to do far more for me in the long run than "not going outside when it's cold."

  16. KML says:

    Thanks for writing this. Even though I had always used a condom when engaging in sex, I contracted HPV too. Since it's a skin-to-skin virus, condoms don't always protect it since they do not cover everything (ex. the scrotum). HPV is a serious issue, and 1 in 4 girls on my campus who have been tested for it have come up with positive results. I have my 6 month follow up later on this week, so we'll just see.

  17. wow..i met a girl that had HPV….she didn't tell me until right b4 we had sex…i pulled out my smartphone and googled to see what it was…i had never heard of it…:/

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  18. Quinn says:

    Anna –

    thank you. I needed this.

  19. Denyse says:

    My heart really does go out to the author, but in reality there is no way it could have been prevented. Even if Guardasil, and condoms were involved the fact is most men are carriers and they do not even know it. What is even worse is that a woman can have it for years and not realize it. I was originally diagnosed in 2006 and had to undergo a colposcopy. Since then I have had normal PAP smears until recently when the virus showed up again. Unfortunately, there are so many strains of HPV that any contact with a partner who may be carrying a different strain than you runs the risk of infecting you with his/her strain and vice versa. Although, I have been able to live my life the fact that other than annual PAPs there really isn't much one can do to treat the virus. I want to commend you for taking the time to share such a personal story with us, and know that you are not alone.

  20. prairielove says:

    It's great that you came out with your story.

    BUT…. you need to let the guy know, or there will other girls going through the same thing you are.

  21. Anon says:

    the vaccine does not prevent HPV in all women. it does lower your risk of contracting the high-risk strain. i was vaccinated and still acquired the high-risk strain. even though your body will probably fight it off over time, having to get your cervical cells frozen due to an abnormal pap test should be reason enough to get vaccinated AND to protect yourself. it's painful, awkward, and embarrassing. HPV and other STDs are 100% preventable.

  22. Anon says:

    ps: HPV can be transferred by kissing and skin-to-skin contact, so my above comment about its preventability is not correct. woops

  23. englishgirl says:

    I'm a virgin, I plan on only doing it with another virgin, and then only if he gets circumcised.

    1. Jill says:

      Even if he hasn't had full intercourse that doesn't mean that he won't have picked something up by genital contact with another girl. And what does circumcision have to do with anything? I think you are misinformed if you think that is connected to STDs in any way.

    2. beckezmail says:

      yeah circumcision is a pretty horrible thing to do to anyone of any gender. I encourage you to do some research on it. it helps nothing just about and can cause so many many problems as well as loss of function.

  24. Melaine says:

    Why doesn't the guy who gave it to you know he has it? You should be giving him a call if for no other reason than to do your utmost to prevent him from giving it to someone else,

  25. SisterinSuffering says:

    I got it in November and I go back in April. It has made me VERY different down there and I've decided to be celibate too for the time being. I'm scared as hell but I know I have to live with the decisions I've made. Soldier on Sister!

  26. allie says:

    "The girl down the hall probably used a condom every time. I remembered all those times when I brushed off the need for a condom because I was on birth control. "
    actually you can get HPV even with condoms, i know i girl who got it and she was using protection at the time with her boyfriend and it really blew her mind. the best thing to do is get tested before you have sex is what she said. and i you are having casual sex, yes a condom will protect some but not completly since it is a skin to skin contact disease like herpes, meaning you can get herpes even with a condom and that shit does not go away! just get tested monthly if you do have casual sex, there is no excuse for not doing that. and who knows, that girl down the hall probably does have something, you are not alone.

  27. Ellie says:

    When I was 17, I got HPV from genital contact, not intercourse. I couldn't believe it because I wasn't even having sex, and it happened. My doctor said they don't even check for HPV until you're 21 so she said to just do 2 paps a year instead of one to monitor it.

  28. kingsaul says:

    o well lol

  29. Emily says:

    There is so much misinformation being spread here.

    High risk HPV on its own is NOT considered a disease. Until your cells start showing up as abnormal, having high risk HPV doesn't mean anything.

    Also, unless you've only been with one man, there is no way to tell if your current man or someone else was the one who gave you HPV. Like many STDs, HPV can stay dormant in one's body for long periods of time. Additionally, there is currently no FDA approved test for men, so there is really no way to find out who was the carrier.

    I was told I had contracted high risk HPV about 10 months ago. I had been seeing someone for about a month at the time, and I debated whether or not to tell him. Ultimately, I decided there was no point since a) I had no idea if he was the one who had passed it to me and b) there was no way to test him for it. Telling him would have caused unnecessary anxiety. My doctor told me not to worry about it, and we would see how things look when I came back for my regular pap smear in a year.

    This article is a gross misrepresentation of what high risk HPV actually is. 80% of women will have high risk HPV at some point in their life. The "some point" comes from the fact that the body is quite often able to rid itself of the virus before it develops into anything serious. There is no need to miss out on regular college activities simply because you have high risk HPV.

  30. Leah says:

    I was diagnosed with low risk hpv a littleover 6 months ago and I am scheduled for another checkup next week. I have never had any symptoms but I know that doesn't necessarily meanI recently met someone and we had sex and I am too afraid to tell him. I feel terrible for allowing myself to sleep with him without telling him first but its just so shameful and I don't know how to talk about it. We are just getting to know each other so I feel like he will be so angry, and rightfully so I know, but I know I owe it to him to tell him. I am having so much anxiety over this. Can any offer advice? Should I just break things off?

  31. Jill says:

    Jesus christ you little moron go tell the guy you slept with that he has HPV!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Who knows how many girls he is infecting cause they are also too idiotic to use a condom!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  32. Jessica says:

    I had HPV as well, very high risk so I had a colopscopy and it's not completely gone but it's a lot better.
    The first time I got a call from the gyno I burst into tears but she assured me that everything would be ok, and every time I see my doc she does a pap and never makes a big deal about it at all…
    I want everyone to know that HPV is not a big of a deal as long as you get it treated in time! Really like someone else said I'm not trying to downplay the seriousness of HPV but it could be a lottttt worse. You are lucky you got HPV and not HIV! I always think about this everytime I have unprotected sex.

  33. Adele says:

    I'm sorry you got diagnosed with HPV. I am glad you did not go through the excruciating pain of genital herpes. For you girls out there who have been celibate for awhile, you are at risk if you think periods of celibacy are going to reduce your chances of getting an STD. It only takes one partner with an STD, even if you use a condom, because of skin-to-skin contact. At least one STD can remain dormant in the body for decades, without you ever knowing it.

  34. Jen says:


    If only to be fair to him, let alone other girls who will sleep with him. You were passive at first, just because you have to stay inside when it's cold out does not mean you have to be passive now. Take some responsibility and help other people.

  35. […] We all hear about the horror stories of HPV, but you never think that it could happen to you.  […]

  36. Olivia says:

    Hey, would any of you be interested in sharing your stories about HPV diagnosis on a film documentary we're doing about STDs? (We can hide your identity, if that's a concern.)

    Any interest, please e-mail me at and I'll fill you in on what we're doing.

  37. sarahthelady640 says:

    "An 18-year-old would never be able to get an STD, I told myself, especially when she only chooses to have sex with the good guys. But, it happened and I realized that I was not invincible, like I thought I was." That is actually the same thing that I had in mind when I got this disease. Now, I don have a choice but to suck it up — that I am infected with this virus. I've been using apple cidar vinegar and wartscide to treat my genital warts for quite some time now. If only I had the right thinking back then. Notice this: all of us who commented on this blogpost of yours went into anonymous mode. Why? We're already in the 21st Century and society still thinks that it is bad to talk about STDs like it is a crime to do so. Thanks, forums and blogs…

  38. Muhammet says:

    Fortunately cervical canecr vaccine is now available to avoid this scenario for future women. Gardisil and Cervarix are now both available to prevent 80% of HPV transfers that can lead to cervical canecr. All women and even young men should be vaccinated. Gardisil has been approved for use in males and females. Before vaccination was available 70% of all women had this virus by age 30.

  39. Mykeca but pronounced (Micah) says:

    I am an virgin and you ladies and gentlemen are awesome not everyone would do what u guys are doing (sharing your storys and information) that’s very sweet of you guys to help this young girl I am a teenager and if you know who gave it too you,you should tell him because he could be infecting others and I wanna thank you all for helping this young girl and good luck to all of you with your hpv I hope for all of you guys that it will be healed and that everyone stays happy and keep your head held high because u are all Beautiful

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