Can human papillomavirus (HPV) go away if it is left untreated?

Most of the time, human papillomavirus (HPV) goes away by itself within two years and does not cause health problems. The immune system can fight off HPV naturally. If the body does not clear the virus, it stays in the body for many years before it causes these cancers. It is not known why HPV goes away in most, but not all, cases.

Many cases of human papillomavirus (HPV) infection can go away without treatment. However, it is not possible to predict which cases of HPV will go on to cause cancer, so vaccination is recommended to address that risk.

Dr. Diane Harper
Health Education Specialist

Human papillomavirus (HPV) is not like HIV or HSV or hepatitis B, the other viruses associated with sexual activity. HPV is not transmitted by blood, semen, fluids, saliva or secretions. Getting a natural HPV infection will not produce lasting immunity, hence you can get this same type of HPV infection over and over again.

HPV is a virus that is almost undetected by the body, and 90 percent of the time HPV never does anything bad to the human body. Only in 5 percent of infections do precancerous changes happen. Genital warts are much rarer than infections with cancer-causing HPV types. For every one person with genital warts, there are 25 women with abnormal Pap tests due to HPV infections.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.