HPV: Is it suppressed? Does it recur? Does it clear up?

In most women (80-90%) infected by any type of HPV, an HPV test taken from their cervix will come out negative after two years. Approximately 70% of infected individuals are “clear” within the first year. This is a considered a healthy reaction of their immune system. Only in a small percentage of infected women do we see persistent and recurring inflammations of the cervical cells. Infection by high-risk HPVs, especially HPV types 16 and 18, appears to be more difficult to suppress.

We are not certain whether the virus is suppressed but remains in small amounts in our cells (the infection becomes latent), or whether it disappears entirely. The first hypothesis seems to prevail and it is confirmed in cases where people in stable, monogamous relationships have recurrent lesions, if their immune system is seriously impaired or suppressed later in life.