Women Under Age 30 Women Over Age 30
If you are Tested and Find Out You Have High-risk HPV, What Does That Mean? What Happens Next?
The most important thing to remember is that HPV infections are very common, and are usually nothing to worry about! In most women, HPV infections go away or are suppressed by the body without causing any problems that need treatment. It is only when an HPV infection stays active that abnormal cells may form.
- If the HPV test shows you have a high-risk type of the HPV virus, but your Pap is normal , then the expert guidelines recommend that both tests be repeated in 12 months. If your HPV infection is still active at that time, and/or if your Pap is now abnormal, another exam called a colposcopy is needed to help determine if any "bad cells" are present. If abnormal cells are found early, before they become cancerous, treatment is highly effective.
- If the HPV test shows you have a high-risk type of HPV, and your Pap result is abnormal or inconclusive ("ASC-US"), the expert guidelines say you should have a colposcopy exam right away.
Note that if the HPV test shows you do not have HPV, but your Pap looks abnormal, it is less likely that you have cervical disease. The presence of a high-risk type of HPV is necessary for cancer to develop. However, just to be sure, the guidelines recommend that you get a colposcopy exam of your cervix. And if you do not have HPV but your Pap results are unclear or inconclusive ("ASC-US"), both the HPV and Pap tests should be repeated in a year.
The diagram below provides a more detailed overview of the different test results possible and what they mean to you...