In fact, many women with HPV will never have an abnormal pap smear. That being said, routine screening with your provider is the only way to follow any changes to the cervix that could lead to cervical cancer.
Based on the 5-year risks of cervical precancer, the researchers determined that HPV-positive women with a negative dual-stain result can safely wait 3 years before being screened again.
In most cases (9 out of 10), HPV goes away on its own within two years without health problems. But when HPV does not go away, it can cause health problems like genital warts and cancer. Genital warts usually appear as a small bump or group of bumps in the genital area.
Women who are 21 to 29 should have a Pap test alone every 3 years. HPV testing alone can be considered for women who are 25 to 29, but Pap tests are preferred. Women who are 30 to 65 have three options for testing. They can have a Pap test and an HPV test (co-testing) every 5 years.
HPV-related cancers often take years to develop after getting an HPV infection. Cervical cancer usually develops over 10 or more years. There can be a long interval between being infected with HPV, the development of abnormal cells on the cervix and the development of cervical cancer.
HPV testing can be performed for women with a Pap test (commonly known as a Pap smear), which is a screening test for cervical cancer. HPV testing is only available for women, and it can determine if HPV is present. If present, the test can determine whether the HPV is a low- or a high-risk type.
Around 90% of HPV infections clear within 2 years. For a small number of women and people with a cervix, their immune system will not be able to get rid of HPV. This is called a persistent infection. A persistent HPV infection causes the cells of the cervix to change.
You're contagious for as long as you have the virus — regardless of whether or not you have symptoms. For example, even if your genital warts have disappeared, you can still spread the HPV that caused them if the virus is still in your body. Once your immune system destroys the virus, you're no longer contagious.
But women's risk for HPV is not over yet: There is sometimes a second peak around the age of menopause. Why? A study released early in 2013 of women 35 to 60 years old found that HPV in women at or after menopause may represent an infection acquired years ago.
Usually, the body's immune system gets rid of the HPV infection naturally within two years. This is true of both oncogenic and non-oncogenic HPV types.
Abnormal Pap Smears are typically caused by strains of the Human Papilloma Virus, HPV. An abnormal pap smear result does not mean you have cervical cancer. High risk strains can cause more serious cellular changes. Typically, both high and low risk strains of HPV go away within 24 months.
Updated cervical cancer screening guidelines from ACS recommend starting screening at age 25 with an HPV test and having HPV testing every 5 years through age 65. However, testing with an HPV/Pap cotest every 5 years or with a Pap test every 3 years is still acceptable.
HPV spreads through sexual contact and is very common in young people — frequently, the test results will be positive. However, HPV infections often clear on their own within a year or two. Cervical changes that lead to cancer usually take several years — often 10 years or more — to develop.
The most common reason for cell changes to come back would be your immune system not getting rid of high-risk HPV. We don't yet know why some people can clear HPV and others can't.
If you have HPV, there's a very good chance it won't be a long-term problem for you.” Your immune system will attack the virus and it will likely be gone within two years. Of the millions of cases of HPV diagnosed every year, only a small number become cancer. Most of those cases are cervical cancer.
If you test positive for HPV 16/18, you will need to have a colposcopy. If you test positive for HPV (but did not have genotyping performed or had genotyping and tested negative for 16/18), you will likely have a colposcopy.
Some HPV infections can lead to cancer
Most HPV infections (9 out of 10) go away by themselves within 2 years. But sometimes, HPV infections will last longer and can cause some cancers. HPV infections can cause cancers of the: Cervix, vagina, and vulva in women.
Unfortunately, once you have been infected with HPV, there is no treatment that can cure it or eliminate the virus from your system. A hysterectomy removes the cervix, which means that the risk of developing cervical cancer because of persistent HPV infection will essentially be eliminated.
Depending on the type of HPV that you have, the virus can linger in your body for years. In most cases, your body can produce antibodies against the virus and clear the virus within one to two years. Most strains of HPV go away permanently without treatment.
There are at least 12 high-risk strains of HPV, but only two—types 16 and 18—cause the majority of HPV-related cancers, including those involving the cervix, vagina, vulva, penis, and anus. High-risk HPV strains can also lead to cancers of the throat, tongue, and tonsils, known as oropharyngeal cancer.
Anyone who has had sex can get HPV, even if it was only with only one person, but infections are more likely in people who have had many sex partners. Even if a person delays sexual activity until marriage, or only has one partner, they are still at risk of HPV infection if their partner has been exposed.