It's true that HPV may be present for weeks, months, or even years prior to a diagnosis being made. Most couples never really answer the question of when the virus was contracted, or from whom. I'll post an article below I wrote for HPV News some time back and I hope it helps. Take care, good luck, and post again if you like.
FredoThe article below is reprinted from the April 2005 issue of HPV News (subscriptions available at www.hpvenews.com)HPV LatencyI recently had an abnormal Pap smear and, on a follow-up test, was confirmed to have abnormal cells caused by HPV. I donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t believe my husband has cheated on me, but the material I can find on the Internet really has conflicting information Ã¢â‚¬â€œ some sites say you can have HPV for years before itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s diagnosed, but others say it usually shows up in a few months! WhoÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s right? IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve had regular Pap smears throughout my adult life, too.
This is a common question that inevitably seems to emerge when HPV is found within a long-term and (assumed) monogamous relationship. As youÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ll see below, a clear-cut answer to your question does not exist, but hopefully weÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ll be able to offer insight.
First, itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s important to stress that Pap smears are not specific tests for HPV. Rather, they are designed to detect Ã¢â‚¬Å“diseaseÃ¢â‚¬Â of the cervix, for example, abnormal cell changes. Your follow-up screening was probably an HPV test that specifically detects the presence of the virus.
Also, while repeated Pap tests deserve enormous credit for greatly reducing cervical cancer rates in countries that have widespread screening programs, it should be noted they arenÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t very sensitive, which means they can often miss disease that is present. The success Pap smears have as a tool for reducing cervical cancer is due to consistent, regular screening coupled with the fact cervical cancer tends to progress fairly slowly, often taking many years to become invasive.
YouÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re right about the information being confusing. An overview of HPV on the Association of Reproductive Health Professionals Web site says while the average Ã¢â‚¬Å“latencyÃ¢â‚¬Â period of the virus is often thought to be anywhere from one to eight months, it can actually vary widely.
Exactly Ã¢â‚¬Å“howÃ¢â‚¬Â widely? ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢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.
Most women with HPV probably experience the virus as a transient infection that is either cleared or suppressed by the immune response, and will not be likely to have an abnormal Pap smear as a result.
However, HPV may actually exist in skin cells (basal epithelium) in very small numbers without causing disease, such as cervical cell changes, that is easily detected clinically. This may go on for an indefinite number of years. ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢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 itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢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, itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s difficult to look at this diagnosis, taken by itself, as an indication that anyone has been unfaithful. The Ã¢â‚¬Å“whoÃ¢â‚¬Â and Ã¢â‚¬Å“whenÃ¢â‚¬Â questions, however, may never truly be answered.