What will your report tell you?
- There are two possible outcomes. Positive or negative. A negative report means you are not at risk of developing cervical cancer. A positive report will tell you if it is type 16 or 18, or one of the other high-risk types. Other high-risk types are not typed specifically. This is because HPV 16 and 18 are the types known to cause over 70% of invasive cervical cancers and require closer monitoring.
- Testing positive for a high-risk HPV this does not mean that you have cervical cancer. The virus is highly likely to be cleared naturally by your body over time. Take your report to your Practitioner and they can advice on any further testing, or future testing intervals.
How much is the HPV test?
How quickly can I get my results?
You will be emailed your results within 1-2 working days of receipt at the laboratory
What will the result tell me?
The result either be HPV positive or HPV negative. A positive result will detail if you have tested positive specifically for the highest risk types HPV 16 and/or 18, or whether you simply have another high-risk type (26, 30, 31, 33, 34, 35, 39, 45, 51, 52, 53, 56, 58, 59, 66, 67, 68, 69, 70, 73, 82, 97) but will not differentiate which one.
What is HPV infection?
Human papillomavirus (HPV) is the name of a group of viruses that cause infection on the skin surface. It is one of the most common viral infections. It is so common many experts believe HPV infection should be considered an inevitable consequence of normal sexual activity. 80% of unvaccinated adults will have an HPV infection at some point in their life. In most people, it causes no symptoms (you won’t know you have it) so is therefore unavoidably shared mainly through sexual activity (direct skin-to-skin contact) with someone who is infected. HPV can be transmitted by penetrative as well as non-penetrative sexual contact (genital-genital, oral-genital, anal-genital, oral-anal).
It most people the virus is harmless and causes no symptoms.
Persistent HPV infection can cause abnormal cells which can sometimes lead to cancers, including cervical, vaginal, vulval, anal and head and neck cancers and penile cancers.
What are the symptoms of an HPV infection?
HPV causes no symptoms and you won’t know that you have it. If HPV symptoms do develop, these may appear as warts on the genital area or as an abnormal cervical smear.
What are HPV genital warts?
HPV can cause genital warts in some people. Genital warts are growths or bumps on the skin around the genital area; vulva, vagina, cervix, penis, scrotum, urethra (urine opening), anus, groin or thigh. They may be raised warts or flat warts, single or multiple, small or large. Some HPV warts can cluster together forming a cauliflower-like shape. They are usually harmless and different from the types of HPV that cause abnormal cells or cancer. If left untreated, genital warts may go away, stay the same, or increase in size or number.
How do you contract HPV?
HPV is usually acquired by direct skin-to-skin contact during intimate sexual contact with someone who is infected. The virus can be transmitted by penetrative as well as non-penetrative sexual contact (genital-genital, oral-genital, anal-genital, oral-anal).
Sex partners tend to share HPV, even when both partners do not show signs of HPV. HPV can lie dormant for many years so there is no way to know which partner it came from or how long ago.
How serious is HPV?
In most people, the HPV virus is harmless and causes no symptoms and will not develop into warts, or pre-cancer or cancer. However, some types of HPV that you can’t see, can cause changes to skin cells which can sometimes lead to cancers in both men and women, including cervical, vaginal, vulval, anal, head and neck cancers and penile cancers.
Does HPV cause cancer?
HPV is the main cause of cervical cancer. It is a common infection and often clears by natural immunity. In most people the virus is harmless and causes no symptoms (you won’t know you have it) and will not develop into warts, pre-cancer or cancer. It can however cause abnormal cells to develop which can lead to cancers, including cervical, vaginal, vulval, anal, head and neck cancers and penile cancers.
Preventive vaccines are now available which provide protection from almost all HPV infections that cause abnormal cells.
Can men get HPV?
All people are at risk of catching HPV. HPV is an extremely common infection and, without vaccination, 80% of adults will have an HPV infection at some point in their life. Infection with HPV is believed to occur quickly after becoming sexually active and the rate of infection in males does not appear to decline with age.
Studies have shown men who have sex with men (MSM) have a significantly higher risk of acquiring HPV-associated anal cancer.
How does HPV affect males?
In males, HPV can affect the anogenital area and also the throat, in the form of genital warts, penile cancer, anal cancer and oropharyngeal (throat) cancer. While HPV is a very common STI, genital warts are uncommon, and HPV-related cancers are rare. Infection with high-risk HPV (hr-HPV) places men at risk of developing HPV-related cancers, however the likelihood of an infection progressing to cancer is unknown and thought to be low.
Do condoms prevent HPV?
HPV is transmitted by direct skin-to-skin contact and therefore condom use during sexual intercourse can provide some protection against infection. However, as condoms do not cover the entire skin surface that comes into contact during sexual intercourse, they cannot offer 100% protection.
What is the HPV vaccine?
The HPV vaccine prevents human papillomavirus (HPV) types that cause several cancers, including cervical, vaginal, vulval, anal, head and neck cancers and penile cancers. The HPV vaccine also prevents HPV types that cause genital warts in both females and males and will prevent most cases of genital warts. Vaccination prior to becoming sexually active gives you the best chance of preventing HPV infection. For people who are already sexually active, the vaccine may still be of benefit as it will prevent the acquisition of new HPV infections for the strains the vaccine covers.
Can HPV be treated?
Only genital warts and high grade cervical abnormalities are treated. There is no treatment for HPV that has no symptoms. The majority of HPV is naturally cleared by the body’s immune system within 1 – 2 years. Regular screening will assist in determining whether the infection is persisting and should be investigated further.
Can HPV be cured?
There is no treatment to eliminate HPV itself. HPV is a viral infection which is usually dealt with by your body’s immune system. HPV can be prevented with a vaccine.
Does HPV affect fertility or pregnancy?
HPV in pregnancy has no link with miscarriage, premature labour, or other types of pregnancy complications. It is no hindrance to fertility or planning a family.
Is the test approved for use on the NHS?
Yes and no. FGIH (the laboratory) use a CE-IVD marked kit which means it had to pass many stringent checks for sensitivity and specificity before it can be used. It is, however, a different test to that used by the NHS. Both of these tests are just as accurate at diagnosing HPV. The main difference is that this test looks at more strains of HPV than the NHS tests.