Human papillomavirus or HPV is the virus responsible for cervical cancer in women and genital warts in the general population. There are over 100 strains of HPV. HPV 6 and HPV 11 cause genital warts while HPV 16 and HPV 18 are responsible for 95 percent of cervical cancer cases.
Most strains of HPV are relatively harmless and will go away on their own--usually without an individual ever knowing she was infected.
The majority of HPV infections remain in the body for a maximum of two years.
HPV is eradicated from the body when the body's immune system fights it off. HPV strains that are known to cause genital warts and cancer are capable of replicating too quickly for the immune system to keep up. Infections with these strains are usually lifelong.
HPV can be transmitted via sexual contact or by skin-to-skin contact of any kind. Because of this, it can be difficult to determine when an individual was infected. The most dangerous HPV strains are only transmitted through sexual contact.
There is currently no cure for HPV other than to stay healthy and give your body a chance to fight off the infection. A healthy person with a strong immune system should be able to fight off an HPV infection within a year and perhaps less.