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What Your HPV Test Results Mean

By EmpowHER January 11, 2012 - 10:58am

Article provided by QIAGEN

When a woman discovers that she has a high-risk HPV, naturally, she wants to learn more about what it means and what happens next.

The most important thing to remember is that HPV infections are very common, and are usually nothing to worry about! In most women, HPV infections go away or are suppressed by the body without causing any problems that need treatment. It is only when an HPV infection stays active over a long period of time that abnormal cells may form.

  • If the HPV test shows you have a high-risk type of the HPV virus, but your Pap is normal, then the expert guidelines recommend that both tests be repeated in 6-12 months. Check with your own personal doctor regarding the monitoring he or she wants to put in place. If your HPV infection is still active at that time, and/or if your Pap is now abnormal, another exam called a colposcopy may be needed to help determine if any "bad cells" are present. If abnormal cells are found early, before they become cancerous, treatment is highly effective.
  • If the HPV test shows you have a high-risk type of HPV, and your Pap result is abnormal or inconclusive ("ASC-US"), the expert guidelines say you should have a colposcopy exam right away.

Note that if the HPV test shows you do not have HPV, but your Pap look abnormal, it is less likely that you have cervical disease. The presence of a high-risk type of HPV is necessary for cancer to develop. However, just to be sure, the guidelines recommend that you get a colposcopy exam of your cervix. And if you do not have HPV but your Pap results are unclear or inconclusive ("ASC-US"), both the HPV and Pap tests should be repeated in a year. Be sure to speak with your doctor or nurse about your results and next steps.

For a graphic of Pap and HPV test results and what they mean, go to: http://www.thehpvtest.com/Getting-the-Test/What-Your-Test-Results-Mean/O...

For additional information on cervical cancer prevention and HPV testing, please visit www.theHPVtest.com.

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