The cause of cervical cancer has been found to be a skin cell virus called Human Papillomavirus (HPV). The low risk type of HPV results into genital warts whereas the high risk type of HPV leads to cervical cancer. The symptoms of HPV are usually not found. Therefore, only after the screening for cervical cancer, one could actually find out the presence of HPV. A person gets HPV:
- Through sexual transmission. Apart from penetrative sex, only genital contact could lead to the transmission of HPV.
- At times, even the usage of condoms during the intercourse could not avoid the transmission.
- First sexual intercourse at an early age or multiple sexual partners.
- HIV infected people are at higher risk of getting HPV.
70% of cervical cancers in the world is said to be caused by HPV 16 and 18, for which vaccines to protect against the virus are available. The same vaccines give protection from the other types of HPV. The HPV infection in the women of age twenty one to twenty nine usually goes away. Therefore, it is suggested to avoid the HPV test. Women above the age of thirty should go for the test as they are more likely to develop cancer because the HPV may have stayed in the body for a long time.
- HPV test is useful in detecting the high risk type of HPV in a woman’s cervix.
- The sample of cells taken for Pap test can be used in this test or a separate sample after the Pap test will do the work.
- If HPV test results positive, then the woman has high risk of HPV. Therefore, she should be observed closely as the chances of developing abnormal cells are higher.
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