Hi, It's Dr. C. Board certified Ob-gyne with special expertise in the management of cervical disease and HV.
It's most likely that the HPV has been present on her cervix for a number of years before causing the abnormal. It takes at least 4 years for HPV to cause changes that require treatment, usually 10 years+.
In her age group, we don't typically test for HPV apart from an abnormal pap. So it was likely there previously but not causing abnormal cells enough to show up on the pap yet. Once a woman reached age 30, we test for HPB separately along with the pap. The reason for that is that a + hpv after age 30 is more likely to have been there for a while, long enough to cause enough precancerous changes on the cervix for us to be concerned about. The pap smear is not a perfect test and misses some abnormalities as well.
I suspect she is scheduled for a LEEP cone biopsy. This will remove all the abnormal cells. And the specimen will be examined to make sure of that. There is a small chance that the HPV and precancer can recur over time but if the HPV is not type 16 or 18, the risk is fairly low, about 5% or less. The recurrence risk is higher if she is positive for types 16 or 18. Those 2 types are in the vaccine. If possible, her HPV type can be determined and if not 16 or 18, the LEEP is probably going to be a cure for her.
I hope this was reassuring and helpful. Please reply if I can clarify anything.