- Human Papilloma Virus (HPV)
- What is HPV?
- How do you get genital HPV?
- How common is HPV? Who gets it?
- What are the symptoms of HPV?
- Can HPV be treated?
- Can HPV be prevented?
- What are the risk factors for genital HPV?
- HPV and cancer
- What about other HPV-related diseases?
- Testing for HPV
- If you test positive for HPV, what does it mean?
- Will HPV affect my pregnancy or my baby?
- Why should women over age 30 with normal test results change to co-testing every 5 years and start doing HPV testing? Is that safe?
- HPV vaccines
- Who should be vaccinated and when?
- What are the benefits of the vaccines?
- How much do the HPV vaccines cost? Are they covered by health insurance plans?
- Do you need to be tested for HPV before getting the vaccine?
- Do women and girls who have been vaccinated still need Pap tests?
- Can cervical cancer be prevented without a vaccine?
- Is the American Cancer Society in favor of vaccinating against HPV?
- Do you want more information?
Why should women over age 30 with normal test results change to co-testing every 5 years and start doing HPV testing? Is that safe?
Cell changes in the cervix happen very slowly. It usually takes more than 10 years for cell changes to become cancer. Pap tests have been done yearly in the past, but now we know that Pap tests are not needed yearly. In fact, if done every year, they can lead to harm from unneeded treatment of cell changes that would never go on to cause cancer.
One of the benefits of adding testing for HPV is that women may not need a Pap test as often. Getting the Pap test and HPV test (called “co-testing”) every 5 years means fewer tests, follow-up visits, and treatments may be needed, while the same number or even slightly more cervical cancers are found. Women with normal Pap and HPV test results have almost no chance of getting cervical cancer within at least 5 years. There’s no added safety to co-testing more often than every 5 years.
Co-testing is preferred, but it’s also OK to continue to have the Pap test alone every 3 years.
Last Medical Review: 05/02/2013
Last Revised: 05/02/2013