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National Cervical Cancer Coalition

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PostPosted: Fri Feb 09, 2007 3:35 pm 

Joined: Fri Feb 09, 2007 3:21 pm
Posts: 1
in all the hpv info, it says that mosthpv infections clear after 1-2 years in the system. However some types of hpv can stay in the body, dormant for "many years", and these types that stay in the body for many years are the types that might cause cancer. My question is...What is that outside number for "many" years? What is the maximum number of years hpv can remain in the system and cause an abnormal pap, after a lifetime of normal ones?

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PostPosted: Mon Feb 12, 2007 9:37 am 
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Joined: Wed Oct 04, 2006 4:08 pm
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Location: North Carolina
Hello loveshoes and welcome to our message boards,

Your question is a very common one and we'll do our best to offer insight, although let me tell you in advance there is no set answer to the question of "how long?"

Let me offer this from an answer I posted to someone else who had much the same question:

Much of the literature says while the average “latency” period of the virus is often thought to be anywhere from one to eight months, it can actually vary widely.

Exactly “how” widely? It’s difficult to say with certainty, but experts typically agree it may take years after exposure before lesions associated with HPV (that is, warts or cell changes) are detected clinically.

This is because HPV can actually exist in deeper skin cells in very small numbers without causing disease, such as warts, that is easily detected clinically. This may go on for an indefinite number of years. It’s difficult for researchers to pin down exactly why some will experience lesions that are diagnosed while others do not, but co-factors could involve smoking, pregnancy, stress, diet, or a host of other things that can affect the immune system.

We understand it’s frustrating that no one can offer a definitive response to your individual circumstances. If there was no reason to suspect infidelity prior to the HPV diagnosis, it’s difficult to look at this diagnosis, taken by itself, as an indication that anyone has been unfaithful. The “who” and “when” questions, however, may never truly be answered.

Review the entire thread at

I hope this helps.

All the best,

ASHA Moderator

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