HPV is a very common virus. Over 150 types of HPV have been identified. However, only some types are known to cause health problems such as genital warts and cancers.
HPV is primarily transferred by skin-to-skin contact. Nearly all sexually active adults will get HPV at some point in their lives. It is not a reflection on you, your partner or your lifestyle. It may take years after you were first infected before you develop any symptoms. In most cases, your body will clear HPV. However, when the presence of HPV continues, certain high-risk HPV can lead to cancers such as cervical cancer
Most high-risk HPV infections have no symptoms, are harmless and are cleared by the body’s immune system within two years. Anyone can test positive for HPV. Testing is the only way to know for sure.
You can request an HPV test when you visit your doctor. The sample collected for an HPV test is identical to the way a Pap test is done. In fact, the same sample can be used for both a Pap test and an HPV test. Your doctor’s office will send the collected samples to a lab where the HPV test is conducted.
Your healthcare provider will use an instrument, called a speculum, to look into your vagina. Another device is then inserted to collect cell samples from the cervix, which are then sent to a laboratory for the HPV test.
The HPV test uses the same sample as the Pap test. You may feel a little pinch when the speculum is inserted and it may feel a little uncomfortable when a sample is taken from your cervix.
Possibly, depending on your age. HPV and Pap co-testing — running both tests on the same sample of cells from the cervix — has been common for women over age 30 for more than a decade.
There are over 150 different types of HPV. Not all HPV types are harmful. Some have a higher risk of causing cancer. HPV 16 and HPV 18 are the two highest risk types of the virus and known to cause about 70% of cervical cancer.
Yes, however many tests offer only a yes/no answer for all high-risk HPV types combined, which include HPV 16 and HPV 18. So a positive test result from these tests only indicates if you have an infection from any one of the high-risk HPV types, and will not report the results for the highest risk HPV 16 and HPV 18 separately. The cobas® HPV Test from Roche gives separate results for HPV 16 and HPV 18 in addition to a group of 12 other high-risk HPV types together, to provide you and your doctor more information on your risk of cervical cancer. It is helpful to get the results for HPV 16 and HPV 18 separately, so you will know if you have one of the highest risk types.
Yes. Experts still recommend routine screening. The vaccine does not protect against all high-risk types of the virus.
In March 2014, a panel of experts advised the FDA that it was as safe and effective using the cobas® HPV Test in place of the Pap test as a first line test to screen for cervical cancer. In April 2014, the FDA made a decision to approve the cobas® HPV Test as a first-line, primary screen in women ages 25-65 years of age. This means that the cobas® HPV Test can now be used to replace the Pap test, if the doctor chooses to do so for primary screening.