Hi, google. Don't apologize for asking questions. It's only natural to wonder how you got any new infection, any disease, or any condition, to wonder how long you've had it, how to treat it, etc. We worry even more about something sexually transmitted because of the taboo society has on sexually transmitted infections. From what I've learned from reading this board and a little of my own research mostly through ASHA and the CDC, despite HPV being so extremely common (the CDC says that an estimated 80% of women will contract genital HPV at some point in their lives by age 50), relatively little long-term research has been done on the virus.
We can't know when you contracted (or "caught") the virus. It's possible that you contracted it at the first time you had sex, or it could have been a month or two before the Pap smear. Sometimes the virus lays "dormant" in the body, meaning that it shows no signs. This is the case for you. You are positive for HPV, but your immune system is keeping it under control right now, so it hasn't caused any changes to your cervix yet.
Unfortunately, the common test for HPV DNA tests for several strains (I don't know the exact number, but it is somewhere along the lines of 10 or 13 of the most common strains that cause cervical changes), but it can only come back positive or negative. That means that if you are positive, there isn't a way of being able to tell exactly which strain you have. There is something called polymerase chain reactions, or PCR testing, but it is so extremely expensive that it is generally only found in clinical trials and not in any regular doctors' offices.
The good news is that you were tested for HPV. The CDC, American Cancer Society, and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), the three big-wigs in the cervical cancer industry, recommend starting to test for HPV with the Pap smear beginning at age 30. This is because younger women come into contact with the virus so frequently, but it's usually strains that are taken care of by the immune system before disease can progress, so finding a positive HPV in someone under age 30 would be extremely common and could cause undo fear in these women.
You are lucky that the virus has not caused an abnormal Pap. That either means that it won't, i.e. you'll have this virus but it will lay dormant and never cause any changes in your cells, or that you may be at risk for developing cellular changes in the future.
The best way to protect yourself, and this goes for anyone who has or has not already been diagnosed with HPV, is to boost your immune system. You can do this by keeping your stress levels low, exercising, sleeping a minimum of 7-8 hours per day, eating a well-balanced diet including the minimum requirements of fruits and vegetables, taking a daily multivitamin, avoid alcohol, and STAY AWAY from tobacco products. If you are already a smoker, one way you deal with stress is likely smoking a cigarette, so quitting smoking can cause more stress initially, but the long term benefits outweigh the risks of the immediate stress you'll feel during quitting that that shouldn't even cross your mind.
In summary, you are in a good place right now as far as HPV goes. You have signs that you have the virus, but it hasn't yet caused any abnormalities in your body. Follow the above suggestions and whatever else your healthcare provider recommends, and hopefully, it'll stay that way. Even if the HPV does lead to eventual changes, keeping your immune system healthy is the best way to lead to a quicker recovery.
Good luck and continue to ask questions!