I'm sorry you're dealing with an abnormal Pap smear result. Before I get to your questions about HPV, let's back up for just a moment.
An abnormal Pap smear does not necessarily indicate you have human papillomavirus
(HPV). The Pap test specifically screens women for cervical cancer. An abnormal Pap result does not mean you have cervical cancer. In fact, most abnormal Pap test results are not cancer at all.
Certainly HPV can cause cervical cancer. However, you need to receive a special test (not unlike a Pap test, actually) in which the cells of your cervix are tested for HPV.
In answer to your question, HPV is one of the most common sexually transmitted diseases. The Centers for Disease Control estimate as many as 50% of sexually active men and women get HPV at some point in their lives. Often, people who are infected with it have no symptoms. So, while it's not exactly true to say HPV can lie dormant in your system, it is accurate to say you can be infected with HPV and live with it for many years without knowing it.
Your gynecologist probably will want to discuss your abnormal Pap test result with you. When that happens, you will have the opportunity to discuss your concerns about HPV.
I hope you find this response helpful!
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