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Can You Catch HPV by Sitting on a Public Toilet Seat?

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Updated March 18, 2008

Question: Can You Catch HPV by Sitting on a Public Toilet Seat?
Answer: Fortunately, this is a myth. You cannot contract the human papillomavirus (HPV) by sitting on a toilet seat after an infected person.

Sexually transmitted viruses, such as HPV, simply cannot survive outside of the body long enough to be transmitted this way.

If Not By Sitting on a Toilet Seat, How Can You Get HPV?

HPV is transmitted through sexual, skin-to-skin contact with an infected partner. No penetration is required to contract HPV.

HPV can be transmitted through:

  • vaginal intercourse
  • anal intercourse
  • oral sex
  • touching your infected partner's genitals and then your own
  • genital-to-genital contact (same or opposite sex)

Sources:

Centers for Disease and Prevention."Sexually Transmitted Disease Guidelines 2006." Sep 2006.

"HPV Vaccine Q and A." National Immunization Program. 07 July 2006. Centers for Disease Control.

"Sexually Transmitted Disease Overview." 4Women.gov. May 2005. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Winer, Ph.D., Rachel, James P. Hughes, Ph.D., Qinghua Feng, Ph.D., Sandra O'Reilly, B.S., Nancy B. Kiviat, M.D., King K. Holmes, M.D., Ph.D., and Laura A. Koutsky, Ph.D.. "Condom Use and the Risk of Genital Human Papillomavirus Infection in Young Women." New England Journal of Medicine 354:2645-265422.

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