HPV is one of the most common sexually transmitted infections. Most HPV infections are harmless and go away on their own.
An HPV test detects the presence of the human papillomavirus. Like a Pap test, an HPV test is done on a sample of cells collected from the cervix. Usually ordered together, (Pap plus HPV), these tests can show with nearly 100% certainty that you do not have cervical disease. A woman who tests negative for high-risk HPV, and has a normal Pap test, has virtually no risk of developing cervical cancer before their next scheduled visit.
If your HPV test is positive, do not be alarmed. The virus is common and will usually be cleared by your immune system. Your physician will ask you to return in six months to one year for another HPV test along with your pap. Your doctor will assess from that point, the need for further testing.
Your HPV status is not an indicator of you or your partner’s sexual behavior. HPV can lie dormant in cervical cells for many years before becoming an active infection.
There are many types of HPV. Some types cause warts that you can see or feel. Other types do not cause any symptoms. Most people do not know they have an HPV infection.
With HPV screening this test will show whether a high-risk type of HPV is present. In women, high-risk types of HPV (such as types 16, 18, 31, and 45) may cause changes in the cells of the cervix that can be seen as abnormal changes on a Pap test. Abnormal cervical cell changes may resolve on their own without treatment. But some untreated cervical cell changes can progress to serious abnormalities and may lead to cervical cancer over time if they are not treated.
An HPV test is done to:
- Women older than age 30 as part of screening for abnormal cervical cells.
- Women who had a Pap test that showed abnormal cervical cells.
- To check for abnormal cervical cells after treatment of a precancerous changes of the cervix.
The results of this test can help doctors decide if further tests or treatments are needed just for you.
Please consult your doctor for any questions you may have.
HPV Vaccine – Information for young women
Nearly 75 percent of women will come into contact with the HPV virus in their lifetime. There are 100 HPV types, only a few high risk types cause genital warts and cervical cancer. At OCWMG we offer the HPV vaccine. The HPV vaccine helps protect against the 4 HPV types that cause approximately 70% of cervical cancers and 90% of genital warts.
The HPV vaccine is an injection that is given in 3 doses over a period of 6 months. Talk to your physician about the HPV vaccine and how it will benefit you.
Why is the HPV vaccine important?
Genital HPV is a common virus that is passed from one person to another through direct skin-to-skin contact during sexual activity. Most sexually active people will get HPV at some time in their lives, though most will never even know it. HPV infection is most common in people in their late teens and early 20s. There are about 40 types of HPV that can infect the genital areas of men and women. Most HPV types cause no symptoms and go away on their own. Other HPV types can cause cervical cancer in women and other less common cancers. Other types of HPV can also cause warts in the genital.
Which girls/women should receive HPV vaccination?
HPV vaccination is recommended for girls and young women ages 9 through 26 years of age.
Will sexually active females benefit from the vaccine?
If possible women should get the vaccine before they become sexually active. Females who are sexually active could benefit from the vaccine, but they may get lesser benefit. This is because they may have already been exposed to one or more of the HPV types targeted by the vaccines.
How long does vaccine protection last?
Researchers have stated that vaccine protection is long-lasting. Recent studies have shown vaccinated individuals for more than six years have no evidence of weakened protection over time.
What does the vaccine not protect against?
The vaccines do not protect against all HPV types; they will not prevent all cases of cervical cancer. About 30% of cervical cancers will not be prevented by the vaccines, so it is important to continue getting screened for cervical cancer (regular Pap tests)
Is HPV vaccine covered by insurance plans?
Most health insurance plans cover the cost of vaccines, but you may want to check with your insurance provider before going to the doctor.