Screening & Vaccination
What You Should Know
About HPV Testing
HPV testing determines if you currently have a high-risk HPV infection. Where the pap test looks for cellular changes that might be caused by HPV, the HPV test looks for the virus itself.
If you are over the age of 30 or your pap test results were inconclusive, your doctor may recommend that you get an HPV test in addition to your pap test. The HPV test will tell if you have a high-risk strain of HPV, and are at increased risk for developing cervical cancer.
HPV testing and pap testing
When used together, pap testing and HPV testing provide you and your doctor with detailed information about your cervical health.
- If both tests are negative, your likelihood of having cervical cancer is less than 1%
- If your pap test is negative and your HPV test is positive, then your doctor may want to monitor you more closely. Remember that the vast majority of HPV infections clear on their own. So a positive HPV test does not mean you have cancer. It simply provides additional information on your HPV status.
Should you be tested for HPV?
The HPV test is not for everyone. It may be for you if you have had an inconclusive or slightly abnormal pap test or if you are over the age of 30.2 HPV testing is not recommended for women under the age of 30 who have not had an abnormal pap test, because HPV is so common in women under the age of 30 and because the risk of cervical cancer increases after the age of 30.2 There is no treatment for HPV, and the vast majority of HPV infections clear on their own. Your doctor can help you decide if HPV testing may be right for you.
If you do get an HPV test, there’s no need to schedule a separate appointment. The HPV test can be performed from your ThinPrep Pap Test sample. Your doctor will only need to collect one sample at the time of your visit.
Testing for other STDs
STDs (sexually transmitted diseases) are on the rise. With a ThinPrep Pap Test, your doctor can order tests for multiple STDs — HPV, Chlamydia, or gonorrhea — from a single sample.
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommends that sexually active people get tested annually for syphilis, Chlamydia, and gonorrhea.3 In addition, you may want to have yearly tests for HIV and genital herpes.
1. Digene Hybrid Capture R 2 Package Insert. Qiagen Group, Netherlands.
2. American Cancer Society. Thinking About Testing for HPV? Available here: http://www.cancer.org/docroot/CRI/content/CRI_2_6x_Thinking_About_Testing_for_HPV.asp. Accessed 5/29/08.
3. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Sexually Transmitted Diseases Guidelines 2006. Available here: http://www.cdc.gov/STD/treatment/. Accessed 7/8/08.