The cold, hard truth is that if you’re sexually active, there’s a very high likelihood that you have the human papillomavirus. HPV is an infection that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) say is “so common that nearly all sexually active men and women get it at some point in their lives.”
In most cases HPV goes away on its own, but it can cause some serious health problems like cervical cancer. According to the CDC, cervical cancer is the most common HPV-associated cancer. HPV is responsible for about 70 percent of cervical cancers in the United States.
For early detection of cervical cancer, women typically undergo a Pap test. At the same time, a cervical HPV test can check for the virus.
These tests are not exactly pleasant or popular. Studies show some women avoid the screening tests altogether. But there may be an alternative, according to a new meta-analysis published in the BMJ, as reported by Time.com.
That alternative is a simple urine test.
"Our study shows that testing urine for HPV has good accuracy when compared to testing samples taken from the cervix for HPV," Dr. Neha Pathak, resident in obstetrics and gynecology and research fellow at Queen Mary University of London, England and lead researcher of the study told TechTimes.com.
The researchers say it’s a less invasive way to spot HPV and may increase screening rates. The urine HPV test could be done at home, and then interpreted by medical professionals, Pathak said.
The meta-analysis looked at 14 studies suggesting the possibility of diagnosing HPV by identifying HPV DNA sequences. The research showed that urine HPV tests had an overall sensitivity – the proportion of positive results identified – of 87 percent.
The urine tests correctly identified negative results 94 percent of the time. When it came to the high-risk strains of the virus – HPV 16 and 18 – the urine HPV test correctly identified positive results 73 percent of the time and negative results 98 percent of the time.
The research could be significant, particularly for women who do not like Pap tests. They might be more likely to screen for HPV.