While the majority of Human papillomavirus (HPV) infections are transient and cleared within a couple of years following exposure, 10–20% of infections persist latently, leading to disease progression and, ultimately, various forms of invasive cancer. Despite the clinical efficiency of recently developed multivalent prophylactic HPV vaccines, these preventive measures are not effective against pre-existing infection. Additionally, considering that the burden associated with HPV is greatest in regions with limited access to preventative vaccination, the development of effective therapies targeting persistent infection remains imperative. This review discusses not only the mechanisms underlying persistent HPV infection, but also the promise of immunomodulatory therapeutic vaccines and small-molecular inhibitors, which aim to augment the host immune response against the viral infection as well as obstruct critical viral–host interactions.
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