Over 70% of sexually active adults will show evidence of a past HPV infection. Most HPV infections are asymptomatic - that is, people are infected and do not know it. It's possible you've already been exposed to the strain that this woman was diagnosed with. Many HPV infections go away on their own. When HPV infection goes away the immune system will remember that HPV type and keep a new infection of the same HPV type from occurring again. However, because there are many different types of HPV, becoming immune to one HPV type may not protect you from getting HPV again if exposed to another HPV type.
Some HPV infections persist and stay in the body. Some strains cause warts. The strains referred to as ""high-risk"" can cause changes to cells that eventually can lead to cervical cancer, anal cancer and rarely, oropharyngeal cancer. It is not possible to know if she has cleared the virus completely and at this time there are no tests to detect HPV in men.
As for ways to protect yourself, condoms can decrease the risk of HPV transmission. There is also an excellent vaccine that protects against 9 of the most common strains of HPV -including 4 high-risk strains and 5 strains that can cause warts. Its recommended that all men and women <26 receive this vaccine.