Article provided by QIAGEN
What exactly is HPV? This is a common question that is brought up by women who may or may not carry the virus, or feel they are at risk. QIAGEN, makers of the digene HPV test explains what the HPV virus is and how HPV is spread.
- 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). There are approximately 13 "high-risk" types of HPV that can cause cervical cancer.
- It is estimated that 80 percent of all women 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. It is not approved for women older than age 26. 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 together with your Pap, 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.
- To locate a health care provider in your community who uses the Pap + HPV testing as their standard for cervical cancer screening, visit the Qiagen Clinician Finder.
Learn more about HPV by visiting www.theHPVtest.com.