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Everything you need to know about HPV and testing

Human papillomavirus (HPV) is a group of viruses that cause cell mutations, the formation of genital warts and some types of cancer. It is transmitted by contact (by touching) and sexually.

HPV is widespread among the population of developed countries. About 80% of sexually active people become infected with this virus by the age of 45. Most symptoms of a viral illness go away on their own. But some strains can lead to such serious complications as the formation and development of oncology.

HPV testing helps determine the presence of the strain in the body that is responsible for the risk of developing cervical cancer. Thanks to the test, a woman can prepare for any scenario in the future, for example, make a decision about treatment, etc.
Read more about HPV tests below.

What is HPV?

  • HPV is the most common sexually transmitted infection (STI). About 43 million new cases of infection are detected every year.
  • There are more than 100 strains of HPV. Most of them do not cause health problems. The disease is asymptomatic, treatable, and does not pose a danger to the body. These are so-called low-risk viruses, most often manifesting themselves in the form of:
  • warts on the skin, genitals, or anus
  • irritation accompanied by itching, pain and bleeding.
  • But there are types of HPV with high risk, that is, they are diagnosed based on certain symptoms, and also lead to various complications. It is these strains that cause the formation of abnormal cells on the cervix and, as a result, the development of cancer. In addition, scientists know 13 types of HPV, complications of which can include cancer of the vagina, penis, anus and throat.
  • There are no symptoms during the initial stages of high-risk HPV infection. Only after some time do signs of the disease appear, such as:
  • pain in the pelvic area;
  • pain during sexual intercourse;
  • vaginal discharge;
  • abnormal bleeding;
  • weight loss;
  • problems with urination, the appearance of traces of blood in the urine, etc.

For whom is HPV testing mandatory?

The USPSTF recommends that women aged 21 to 29 years be screened for cervical cancer every 3 years using a cervical cytology test (PAP test). For women aged 30 to 65 years, the USPSTF recommends screening:

every 3 years only with the help of cytological examination of the cervix;
testing for high-risk human papillomavirus (hrHPV) every 5 years;
every 5 years, testing for hrHPV in combination with cytology (combined study).

The American Cancer Society (ACS) recommends that women aged 25 to 65 years undergo cervical screening and initial HPV testing every 5 years. If initial HPV testing is not available, the ACS recommends a combination test every 5 years or cytology alone every 3 years. In any case, experts recommend consulting a gynecologist.

Although the PAP test does not detect HPV, it can detect the presence of abnormal cervical cells. This is the first sign of the presence of HPV viruses in the body. Based on the test results, the attending physician makes a decision on:

conducting cytological examination and screening for cervical cancer for women aged 21 to 29 years
conducting one type of testing or a combined study for women aged 30 to 65 years.

If the test (screening) results are normal, you can be tested again after 5 years. This is necessary because HPV is very common and can be contracted even through simple skin-to-skin contact. If left untreated, the virus can negatively affect normal cells and the immune system and, as a result, cause health problems.

Is there an HPV test for men?

В настоящее время для мужчин не существует теста на ВПЧ. Но они могут быть бессимптомными носителями инфекции, которая считается одной из причин увеличения риска развития рака полового члена и анального отверстия.

Некоторые врачи предлагают проведение анальных PAP-тестов мужчинам с выявленными ВИЧ-инфекциями. По наблюдениям, у людей с поврежденным пенисом ВПЧ также может вызывать рак ротоглотки с вероятностью 70%.

How to get tested for HPV

  1. To perform an HPV test, your healthcare provider will need to take a sample of cells from your cervix. Therefore, a pelvic examination is prescribed.
  2. HPV testing is carried out as follows:
  3. You undress from the waist down and lie down on the examination chair.
  4. The doctor inserts a speculum into the vagina
  5. Using a brush or spatula, the specialist collects cells from the surface of the cervix or vaginal canal.
  6. The samples are sent to a laboratory where they are tested for HPV.

Is it possible to refuse treatment?

Most people do not need treatment, only medical supervision. As a rule, the vast majority of viruses are eliminated from the body naturally through the excretory system. If a high-risk strain is identified, it is better to undergo treatment. Constant active medical monitoring is also necessary to identify signs of tumor development as quickly as possible. Detection of cancer at an early stage guarantees successful treatment of the disease and a minimum of harm to the body.

Precautions and Risks Associated with HPV Tests

Unfortunately, modern HPV tests are not 100% accurate in determining the disease. From time to time, people get false positives or false negatives. Because of this, the patient may be treated for a non-existent illness, experience anxiety, panic and other signs of depression.

So keep in mind:
the infection may go away on its own, although sometimes symptoms do not appear until several years later;
There is no specific treatment for HPV, although complications of the virus, such as warts, precancerous cells or cancer, can be treated;
HPV is very common and is not a reflection of anyone's sexual choices or lifestyle.

In any case, always try to consult a doctor and take the time to double-check the results.

How much does an HPV test cost?

The average cost of an HPV test can vary from 1,000 to 7,000 rubles. Screening for cervical cancer in some institutions can be carried out free of charge under the compulsory medical insurance policy. In private clinics, as a rule, the cost depends on many factors and is set individually for each region.

If you decide to undergo combined HPV testing and supplement it with STI testing, the total costs may double or even triple.

Once you receive your results, talk to your doctor about next steps. Negative results are not a reason to relax. Experts recommend re-examination after 3-5 years.

The test results are positive and the cervical cells are normal. What to do?

In this case, doctors recommend repeated testing to identify high-risk strains of the virus. In addition, a year later, cytological examination and screening can be repeated. This will allow you to see if the result has changed and if the cells in the cervix are affected.

What to do if the test is positive but the cervical cells are abnormal

  • Your doctor may suggest a colposcopy and cervical biopsy. During these procedures, specialists will examine the organ and also take samples of cells from the cervix to examine them more closely under a microscope.
  • Depending on these results, the attending physician will suggest appropriate measures:
  • surgical removal of areas of the cervix with abnormal cells;
  • destruction of modified cells using cryofreezing or laser;
  • drug therapy.

When to see a doctor about HPV

If you have any health concerns, please consult your doctor. Especially if HPV symptoms such as pain, bleeding or itching are present. Your doctor will help you find out the cause and prescribe treatment if necessary.

If you are sexually active, get tested regularly for HPV and other STIs. And consider getting vaccinated against the human papillomavirus.

Frequently asked questions about HPV tests


HPV is a common type of sexually transmitted infection. In fact, most sexually active people will become infected with some strain of the virus at some point in their lives.
Some strains of HPV are associated with serious diseases such as cervical, anal, and oral cancer. This is why HPV testing is encouraged in women throughout their adult lives. It may even save a life.

Do you want to undergo a professional examination and get complete information about the virus? Contact OncoCare Clinic 308. Our specialists will select the most optimal testing methods for you and help you choose effective treatment. Call and make an appointment at the numbers listed below.
Thus, the treatment of cancer with metastases is not a myth, but a very real, controlled process, which can be transformed from hopeless to chronic, sluggish. Our specialists know how to help even hopeless patients and achieve the best results in complex treatment. You can learn more about the modern method of antimetastatic cytokinogenetic therapy by calling the OncoCare308 LLC clinic. Make an appointment with an oncologist at our medical institution by calling: 8 (499) 322-23-08.

Author of the article:

Aleksanyan Aleksan Zavenovich

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