Even though HPV can last in the body for years, most people get rid of it on their own (not just the symptoms, but the disease). I used to have it and tested positive for a few years (my doctor made me get annual paps even though I was in my early 20s). I have now tested negative for it for years and am no longer required to get annual paps.
Whether or not it is possible for a man and woman to break out at the same time from a 20-year-old exposure seems unlikely. If both parties were under a great deal of unusual stress at the same time which affected both of their immune systems, it may be possible. I would certainly be looking at alternative possibilities before I'd be accepting that as a definite, though.
In my case, I had an abnormal pap approximately 8 months from my initial contact with my husband after his affair. I knew to get tested because the OW informed him that she was in the middle of a cervical cancer issue. I knew at her age, cervical cancer likely meant HPV. I did not develop warts and the HPV resolved itself within a year. All paps since have been normal and it has been about 10 years since my first abnormal pap and subsequent colposcopy. At my initial consult with my doctor, he felt certain that the HPV would resolve itself if we did nothing because I was healthy and did not drink or smoke. He said that smoking seems to have an adverse affect on the body's ability to resolve HPV and that someone with a compromised immune system might also have issues.
My husband did develop warts within the same time frame. Because he is a smoker and drinker, he stopped drinking, cut way back on smoking, and took vitamins to boost his immune system. He also stopped taking all over-the-counter pain medications (like Advil, Tylenol, etc) as they can compromise the immune system. It took his body longer to resolve the issue but they went away on their own with no treatment within about two years of the initial outbreak. He has never had a wart since and his doctor said that, like me, his body spontaneously resolved the issue.
[This message edited by Tearsoflove at 6:09 AM, January 6th (Monday)]
Anyway, it cleared up on its own within a couple of years, and I had normal paps ever since. WH and I stopped being intimate for a few years pre-A, then upon the discovery of this A we were intimate once again. (Didn't know about SI yet). Five months later I had an abnormal pap again with HPV present. My Dr said they aren't really sure if it completely goes away or just lies dormant and reappears in stressful situations, like discovery of an A. Or....I could have gotten a different strand of the virus through this new AP. They just don't know.
I was seen by both the Dr and the physician assistant. They both told me separately that recurrence can be brought on by stress.
Hope this helps.
Seems pretty unlikely that all these special circumstances had to come into play at exactly the right time in order for this supposed innocent breakout to occur. Yeah, that's the jaded side of me having read this type of stuff over and over and over - only to find out the cheater had gone right back to his sleazy ways.
But I guess anything is possible.
Wishing you quick healing, AppalachianGal.