However, because there are many different types of HPV, becoming immune to one HPV type may not protect you from getting HPV again if exposed to another HPV type.Current partners are likely to share HPV, but this may be difficult to prove.
This is not easy to prove and the lack of a solid “yes or no” answer is frustrating.
Still, HPV does not seem likely to always be active.
The bottom line is that most who have genital HPV DNA detected in research studies eventually test negative, often within a year or two.
Many researchers and clinicians do believe “subclinical” HPV (virus may be in skin cells but no lesions are present) is less likely to be transmitted than when warts or cell changes are detected, probably due to a reduced viral load, and subsequently think it is reasonable to say the chances of transmitting virus years after the last clinical episode (where lesions were detected) will become increasingly remote over time.
However, studies show that in most cases a healthy immune system will be likely to clear, or suppress, HPV eventually.
Some cases may persist for years and result in recurrent lesions, but this is not the norm.
Testing options for HPV are limited and most cases are never diagnosed.
Pap tests, for example are not specific screening for HPV; they are designed to detect abnormal cell changes of the cervix.
It may also be a good idea to have resources to which you can direct a partner, so you know they turn to trustworthy sources for information.
In addition to NCCC’s Web pages, see our Resources page for more sites with HPV information.
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