HPV is short for human papilloma (PAP-uh-LO-muh) virus. HPV is a large group of related viruses. While there is no cure for HPV (though vaccinations are available to prevent HPV leading to cancer), it does go away without any kind of treatment the majority of the time. An individual’s natural body defense system (immune system) usually suppresses or eliminates the virus, much like how your body gets rid of a common cold (since colds are likewise caused by viruses). In times when HPV does not go away, it normally causes health problems such as genital warts and cancer.
Genital warts usually appear as a small bump or group of bumps in the genital area. Depending on the size, bump or bumps can be small or large, raised or flat, or shaped like a cauliflower. A doctor can usually diagnose warts by looking at the genital area.
Apparently, the problem occurs when the immune system is unable to get rid of HPV. Studies revealed that it may take the human body up to 24 months to rid itself of HPV, which seems to take a long time, but researches have shown that 92% of young women with a positive HPV test will have a negative test within that 24-month time frame. When subclinical HPV (the types of HPV which have no symptoms) penetrates the cells of the cervix and persists, it could cause serious abnormal cell changes in the cervix, which may lead to cervical cancer if allowed to continue without proper treatment. Usually, the process takes a decade up to 20 years.
When HPV has longed persists and doesn’t go away, usually, there are other factors that inhibit the human body’s natural defense system from doing its job.
Factors that have been identified by the researchers which affect the human body’s ability to fight HPV infection are the following: (1) smoking, (2) HIV, and (3) other diseases that weaken the immune system, (4) cancer treatments such as chemotherapy, (5) previous Chlamydia or herpes infection, (6) poor nutrition, (7) inability to get health care due to poverty, (8) five or more vaginal births and (9) prolonged use of birth control pills (as per females that have been infected).
No one can really predict what HPV infection can do to the body. Sometimes problems caused by the virus would go away but the virus itself, there is no assurance that it disappears or that the person gets “cleared” from the virus. HPV can actually just become “dormant” in the body and waiting to be “reactivated” after some time such as months or years, and most likely triggered by the changes in the immune system. So, it is important that if there is a history of HPV infection, regular screening and testing should be done for monitoring. Doctors also often suggest getting immunized against HPV by getting a vaccine that can give protection from genital warts and precancerous abnormalities.