What is Recurrent HPV?

Once you are infected with human papillomavirus (HPV), the organism usually remains in the body either as an active infection or lays dormant and undetectable once the immune system has cleared the infection. Therefore, at least in some people, HPV never really leaves the body and it can remain present in the cervical cells for years, even if it never rears its head again.

Yes, it is possible for genital warts and cancerous cells to return, but this is not true for everyone. If warts or dysplasia (abnormal cells) do come back, they may make only one appearance or several. For most people, over time the recurrences become less frequent and can disappear completely within about two years.

Recurrence depends largely on the state of a person’s immune system. If you are experiencing chronic or extreme stress, for example, your body is vulnerable to a recurrence. Other factors that may contribute to or help trigger a recurrence of HPV include the use of certain medications that can impair the immune system (e.g., immunosuppression drugs), serious illness, surgery, or HIV infection.

The truth is, experts are still not entirely clear about recurrence of HPV. According to studies at the University of Washington and the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, individuals who have optimally functioning immune systems may eventually be rid of HPV from their system. However, it also appears that at least in some people, the virus persists indefinitely, ready, willing, and able to present symptoms if the immune system is compromised.