HPV, the Test and the Testiness

First off, if you have had HPV or will get HPV, most reading this post will clear the HPV virus with your own immune system. Second of all, apparently testiness is a legal term too, but since this is a medical discussion between us, so no legal terms defined here! Official approval for an HPV test as a cervical screen did not come until March 2009 with the introduction of Cervista. HPV testing, and what to do about it, when, what test, how often, will I  have coverage for it, should I get my partner tested, should I tell my partner I got this test result back, all bring a variety of answers from the Gynos on the street, as well as in their offices!

But knowledge may be power, so getting the test is often the first best step to answering these questions with your own Gyno. The Cervista test can be used two ways. It can be used as the individualized 16/18 test, or the general screening test for any of 14 different HR HPV types. As a general screening test it performs better than other tests in the past as it also tests for HPV 66 which was not available previously. So next time you go to the gyno, find out if you had the 13 test or the 14 test (and stay tuned better tests may be in the pipeline). The most respected source physicians look for in terms of guidelines regarding pap tests the American Society for Colposcopy and Cervical Pathology reminds women in their clinical update on the topic that only 1/2 of all cases of moderate dysplasia are due to the HPV types 16 and 18 (see reference below). So if you just had a slightly abnormal pap (ASCUS) you need the full screen not just a test for 16 and 18. There are also lots of other ways you shouldn't use the test: after a sexual assault, in basic STD testing, or if you are trying to decide whether to get a vaccination, to name a few. And even the proper way to use the test is a bit of a flummox right now as the last comprehensive guidelines (2006) came out before this test was approved. So therein lies part of the testiness of this test. And a shout out to the women who participated in this valuable research from the Women's Health Practice Clinical Research  branch of those trials. The Cervista test was developed by Third Wave Technologies.

Smith JS, Lindsay L, Hoots B, et al. Human papillomavirus type distribution in invasive cervical cancerand high-grade cervical lesions: a meta-analysis update. Int J Cancer 2007;121(3):621-32.


  1. I have been monogomous for 30 years, yet I recently got back a positive result with my first HPV test. Does this mean that my partner hasn't been faithful?

  2. Transmission could have occured that long ago, sit down with your gyno and go over your case and HPV biology it will ease your mind considerably!


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