Oh man. ANOTHER HPV question?
June 24, 2006 4:08 AM   Subscribe

I know HPV has been talked to death here but I have some questions about viral shedding. I don't really understand it. What is viral shedding exactly? So, if you have HPV does viral shedding occur only around the genital region or also on your hands and so on?

I know a condom does not offer protection for HPV already. I'm just trying to figure out what kind of risk I might be posing to others even in non-sexual contact situations. Anyway, as a man, I'm not even sure I have it although my partner two partners ago was just diagnosed with HPV and my last partner just had an irregular pap smear so I'm looking like I might be a likely carrier.
posted by anonymous to Health & Fitness (5 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
This might be helpful.

Essentially, in my understanding, "shedding" is when the virus starts to multiply again and becomes present on the skin where it can be transferred to other people, whether or not your'e showing symptoms.
posted by beerbajay at 7:38 AM on June 24, 2006

My instinct with respect to where the shedding occurs would be that the virus sheds where you have been infected; if on your hands it would shed from your hands, if on your genitals it would shed from your genitals. But I have no citation.
posted by beerbajay at 7:41 AM on June 24, 2006

The condom use and HPV issue is not as simple as saying "I know a condom does not offer protection for HPV already." A Recent study just released and published in the New England Journal of Medicine suggests consistent condom use might protect women up to 70% from cervical cancer related to HPV. News story
posted by edgeways at 8:54 AM on June 24, 2006


All warts are HPV. I went to get a wart on my hand removed, and my doctor and his resident showed no hesitation whatsoever in shaking my hand (directly on the wart), poking it without gloves, etc. too.

P.S.: The resident was cute.
posted by trevyn at 10:17 AM on June 24, 2006

In the case of HPV, to understand viral shedding you have to understand a bit about the anatomy of your skin and how it grows. You can read through the Wiki's entry, but roughly what happens is that the outer layer of your skin is composed of dead skin cells that are continually replenished by the basal cells that are below them. The basal cells are constantly dividing and a portion of the new cells move upward, mature, differentiate, die, and become hard before eventually flaking off or peeling.

In order for HPV to successfully infect the skin, it has to make its way to the basal cells since they are the only ones that still retain the necessary functional replication machinery; however, since the basal cells are burried underneath layers of maturing and dead skin cells, the new viral particles (or virions) have to make their way upward through the outer layers and basically they follow the same path as do the skin cells. When the virions flake off like the skin cells, this is termed "viral shedding" (or, more exactly (and generally), viral shedding is the release of virions -- whether it be on the skin or in the gut or in the lungs -- from host cells on the that can go on to infect a new host.) This shedding can only occur in regions that are infected with virus.

While the types of HPV that infect the genitals can pretty much only infect the genitals (they are able to infect the mouth as well), all warts are caused by HPV, just different types (you can think of they like viral cousins) due to the virions having a perference for different receptors on whatever cells they infect. Now, if there is a path between your infected genitals and a partner's genitals, you can transmit the virus since, due to viral shedding, your hand will be contaminated (though not infected) unless you, say, wash them.

The reason why condoms do not always prevent transmission is because they might not either cover all of the infected areas (the testicles or labia) or that there might be virions outside of the protected area.
posted by The Bishop of Turkey at 11:11 AM on June 24, 2006

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