The strains of Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) that have an effect on the skin can be passed from one person to another when an infected person has skin contact with another. HPV that affects the throat and mouth is passed from person to person through kissing. The type of HPV that affects the genital area is spread during intimate, skin to skin contact during sexual intercourse.
A person can have genital HPV for many years without showing any signs or symptoms. Therefore, it is not unlikely for a partner in a lasting relationship to find that they have the virus following medical exams, such as routine cervical screenings.
There have been many cases where a partner may become concerned with whether or not their significant other has been unfaithful after finding that they have the Human Papilloma Virus. Discovering that you have this virus should not lead you to this conclusion. There is no way to determine how long a person has had the virus, and medical professionals will tell you that you could have had the virus for weeks, months, or even years.
As is the case with any STD, the best method for prevention is to practice safe sex. Use a condom, know your partner well, or practice abstinence. It is also important, especially for women, to have regular screenings. The type of HPV that most people are aware of is the strain that affects the cervix. Should cervical HPV go untreated it can develop into cancer, so it is very important that you are tested regularly for this virus.