Which HPV Virus Is Causing Your Abnormal Pap Smear?

Video Colposcopy at Women's Health Practice

We know that the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) has almost 100 different types or "cousin" virus out there. And many are either completely harmless or virtually never seen in people. You can be tested for this virus. So your question may be if you test positive for the HPV virus which do you have, and then the question remains: if you have one of the HPV virus how serious is this infection. For women who have had testing for the first time, we are certainly not going to know how long you have carried the virus if you test positive, but we know a lot more about various types of the HPV infection. About half the women with  high grade abnormal pap smears will have HPV 16 or 18. The National Cancer Institute estimates that about 1 in 5 women who test positive for HPV 16 or 18 will develop the severe dysplasia that is the step before invasive cancer. About 70-75% of all cervical cancers are caused by HPV 16 or 18, and many women are infected with both viruses.  HPV alone is probably only present in about 5% of the total cases. If it is not HPV 16 or 18, it is now known that about 25% will have one of 5 different HPV types: 31, 33, 45, 52 or 58. These types are detected in many of the HPV tests in use. If you are found to have HPV it is possible you will be told to have the colposcopy test viewed on the machine above. If you would like more indepth knowledge of the HPV statistics and interesting source of information is at the HPV-IMPACT study. Knowing about these other 5 types is important, as they are the ones that will be covered in the next generation of the HPV vaccine. The vaccine hopefully will be available to men and women by the end of the year. But no reason to wait, if you have not been vaccinated, please see your gyno to discuss the risks and benefits of immediate vaccination.


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