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How Do I Get Tested For Human Papilloma Virus/HPV?

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Updated February 03, 2014

Question: How Do I Get Tested For Human Papilloma Virus/HPV?
Answer:
  • For women: A swab from your cervix can be tested for HPV DNA, although this is not normally done unless you have an abnormal Pap smear. An HPV test can be useful in determining whether a borderline abnormal Pap smear is likely to be pre-cancerous. However, since most HPV infections resolve on their own without causing disease, and up to 40% of young women are infected with the virus at any given time, very few doctors advocate routine screening. Instead, yearly Pap smears are suggested to avoid the consequences of the virus.

  • For men: There is no HPV test currently available

Recently, the FDA approved an HPV vaccine that protects against 4 of the most common types of the virus – the two strains that cause 70% of cervical cancers and the two that cause 90% of genital warts. It is currently available only for women 9-26 years of age, although it is being tested in older women and men.

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