Get the HPV test For Peace of MindProtect Yourself Against Cervical Cancer
Who should have the HPV test?
Cervical cancer is less of a risk in women younger than 30. Thus, in women younger than 30, medical experts suggest that the HPV test be done only when the Pap is not clearly abnormal, but not clearly normal either. Once a women reaches the age of 30, the HPV test is approved for routine use, at the same time as the Pap, for every woman.
Who will pay for the HPV Test?
Most insurance companies pay for the HPV test if your healthcare provider follows the guidelines for HPV testing issued by medical organizations such as the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and the American Cancer Society. However, there are still some insurance plans that do not pay for routine HPV testing in women 30 and older. Therefore, it is best to check in advance.
Key Points about HPV
HPV (human papillomavirus) is a common virus that infects the skin and mucous membranes.
There are about 100 types of HPV. Approximately 30 of those are spread through genital contact (typically sexual intercourse). Around 12 – called “low-risk” types of HPV – can cause genital warts. In addition, there are approximately 15 “high-risk” types of HPV that can cause cervical cancer.
It is estimated that 80 percent of all women – and 50 percent of men and women combined – will get one or more types of “genital” HPV at some point in their lives. Although risk factors like smoking can contribute to your chance of developing cervical disease, HPV must first be present.
Fortunately, in most people, the body’s immune system fights off or suppresses the HPV virus before it causes problems. It is only when the infection persists that it can cause cells to become abnormal.
Infection with the most common types of “genital” HPV can be prevented with the HPV vaccine. However, vaccination is only fully effective if administered before a girl or young woman has been exposed to those types of HPV through sexual contact. In addition, the vaccine does not protect against all types of HPV that can cause cervical cancer. Thus, it is important to get a regular Pap and – if you’re over 30 – an HPV test, even if you’ve been vaccinated. A Pap can identify abnormal cells, and the digene HPV Test detects the presence of 13 high-risk types of HPV. Together, they help make sure abnormal cells are diagnosed and treated early.
How often do you need to get an HPV test?
Your first HPV test:
If you are 30 or older and have not had an HPV test, tell your doctor or nurse that you want to be tested for HPV test along with your next Pap. If you are not sure whether you have already had the HPV test, ask! If you are between the ages of 20 and 30, HPV testing should only be used when your Pap result is inconclusive (also called an “ASC-US” Pap). That’s because the infection is very common in younger women, but almost always temporary and harmless. (Note that the most recent guidelines do not recommend HPV testing at all for girls under 20.)
Repeat HPV tests:
If you are over 30, how often you need to repeat the HPV test depends on your past results. For example, if both your Pap and HPV test results are normal, re-testing is needed just once every three years.
When do you no longer need the HPV test?
You can stop being tested for HPV when you no longer need a Pap. Most experts agree that women no longer need to be screened for cervical cancer (using the HPV test and the Pap) when they are older than 65 or have had a total hysterectomy, including removal of the cervix.
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