How Long Can HPV Go Undetected?

The human papillomavirus can remain undetected indefinitely. Many women may not show any symptoms of HPV unless they develop genital warts or have an abnormal Pap test result, states the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

It is also possible for this discovery to be made only when a woman is diagnosed with cancer or other serious condition as a result of being infected with HPV, reports the CDC. HPV is the most prevalent sexually transmitted disease in the United States, and it affects a large percentage of sexually active males and females at some point during the course of their lives.