As of 2014, there is no definitive answer as to how long HPV can remain dormant in the body, according to the Australian Government Department of Health. The virus can be dormant for years before activation.
Once activated, the body typically clears the infection in one or two years, according to the Australian Government Department of Health. In some women, HPV can remain in the cells of the cervix and increase the risk for cervical cancer. Some strains of the HPV virus are responsible for causing genital warts, while the majority of the other strains cause no symptoms in most people.