HPV in summary

  • HPV is a very common virus. Up to 80% of people will be infected with a genital HPV infection at some time during their lives.
  • Your first sexual experience puts you at risk of infection.
  • You are still at risk of contracting HPV even if you do not have penetrative sex as the virus is transmitted through genital skin-to-skin contact.
  • Infection with HPV does NOT imply either infidelity or promiscuity.
  • If you get high-risk HPV you will not require treatment nor will your partner. However, if your cervical screening test detects abnormal cells and high-risk HPV you may be sent for further examination.
  • A strong immune system can help your body to clear an HPV infection.
  • Smoking can make it harder for the body to clear HPV.
  • It can take 12–18 months to clear a high-risk HPV infection.
  • An HPV infection can persist in the body without causing any problems for many years.
Date last updated: 
19 May 2015
Date due for review: 
19 May 2017

Information Standard logo

Have a question? Need to talk?

Our helpline is currently closed, find out when it’s next open.

Or submit your question via our Ask the Expert online service

Rate the information on this page

When you click on an answer below, your vote will be submitted automatically. We do also ask that you please submit a comment and click ‘send feedback’ to provide comment about our information.

Do you feel more informed after reading this information?
I found all the information I needed on this page (1 = Strongly disagree > 5 = Strongly agree)
Rate this page
You voted: . Total votes: 71. Average rating: 3.18