HPV DNA Testing
PDF printable version of HPV DNA Testing (PDF 32 KB)
Genital human papillomavirus (HPV) infections are very common viral infections which usually clear up by themselves in 8 to 14 months. In rare cases, some types of the virus persist and if left undetected can eventually lead to cervical cancer. This usually takes about 10 years. More information on the link between cervical cancer and HPV can be found at: www.cancerscreening.gov.au, look under HPV on the left navigation bar.
HPV DNA testing involves checking to see if HPV is present in cells of the cervix or vagina. The result of this test will only tell you if you have an HPV infection at the time of the test. It does not detect abnormal cell changes in the cervix like the Pap smear.
The National Health and Medical Research Council Guidelines for the Management of Asymptomatic Women with Screen Detected Abnormalities recommend HPV DNA testing for women who have been treated for high grade cervical abnormalities to ensure the virus has gone from their body. HPV DNA testing for this purpose is subsidised by a Medicare rebate.
Currently, HPV DNA testing for any other purpose is not recommended or covered by Medicare. Well women who have had an HPV DNA test outside the recommended guidelines should continue to have regular Pap smears irrespective of the HPV DNA test result received. This is because the test is not completely accurate. Furthermore, well women who test negative for HPV may become infected and develop cervical abnormalities in the future. Well women who test positive for HPV will require further investigation through a Pap smear to check for possible cervical abnormalities.
The Pap smear remains the most effective method for the early detection of cervical cancer. The National Cervical Screening Program recommends routine screening with Pap smears every two years for women between the ages of 18 and 69 years who have ever been sexually active.
Self SamplingSelf sampling is a method where women can collect a sample of their own cells for HPV DNA testing. The sample is sent to a pathology laboratory to test for the presence of HPV. Currently, there is no evidence to support the use of self sampling for HPV DNA testing.
If you have any questions or are considering HPV testing you should consult your general practitioner or health provider. For further information on the National Cervical Screening Program please ring 13 15 56 (for the cost of a local call).
For further information visit the National Cervical Screening Program website at www.cancerscreening.gov.au or contact your doctor, health centre or family planning clinic, or phone 13 15 56 (for the cost of a local call).
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Page currency, Latest update: 18 May, 2011