High Risk HPV Screening

HPV testing is used in cervical cancer screening as a triage test in women 21 years and older that have an ASCUS Pap test result and in postmenopausal women with an ASCUS or LSIL Pap test result. It is also used in conjunction with the Pap test as a screening test in women 30 years and older and can be used as a follow-up test to certain abnormal results. It is not helpful in women/adolescences younger than 21 years old since HPV is very common, the majority of HPV infections clear without intervention, and cervical cancer is extremely rare in this population. Testing for low risk HPV typing is not recommended since these HPV types do not cause cervical cancer, and treatment for genital warts is based on a patient’s symptoms, not based on a positive screening result.

The bottom line is that it is important for women to get routine Pap smear screening with or without HPV testing for high risk types according to the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology (ACOG) guidelines. Women should have an annual gynecologic exam by a healthcare professional unless the cervix, uterus and ovaries have been surgically removed for benign reasons. If you receive an abnormal Pap test result, you need to be monitored and managed by a healthcare professional. The best way to decrease your risk of HPV is to limit your number of sexual partners, use condoms every time you have sex, abstain from smoking, and if you are 26 years old or younger, get vaccinated with the HPV vaccine series.

To learn more about HPV and Pap smear screening guidelines, please visit the following website address: http://www.arhp.org/hpv-tool/.

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