Clearing HPV Virus

Last Modified: April 11, 2008

Question

Dear OncoLink "Ask The Experts,"

I read an article on HPV. It states," 80 percent of HPV is cleared by the immune system." Does this mean the body completely gets rid of the virus? I thought when you had a virus you had it for life.

Answer

Christina S. Chu, MD, Assistant Professor of the Division of Gynecologic Oncology at the University of Pennsylvania Health System, responds:

Unfortunately, we don't yet know everything there is to know about the HPV virus. In some cases, people may completely rid themselves of the HPV virus, but in other cases, the body's immune system may just control it while the virus remains in the body. It is not possible to accurately predict exactly which folks will be able to eliminate it, but having a functioning and intact immune system is certainly an important component.

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