HPV Test (Cervista Human Papillomavirus Infection Test in Women)

  • Medical Author:
    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.

  • Medical Editor: Charles Patrick Davis, MD, PhD
    Charles Patrick Davis, MD, PhD

    Charles Patrick Davis, MD, PhD

    Dr. Charles "Pat" Davis, MD, PhD, is a board certified Emergency Medicine doctor who currently practices as a consultant and staff member for hospitals. He has a PhD in Microbiology (UT at Austin), and the MD (Univ. Texas Medical Branch, Galveston). He is a Clinical Professor (retired) in the Division of Emergency Medicine, UT Health Science Center at San Antonio, and has been the Chief of Emergency Medicine at UT Medical Branch and at UTHSCSA with over 250 publications.

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Who Should Get the HPV Vaccine?

Human papillomavirus (HPV) infection of the cervix can lead to cervical cancer. A vaccine designed to prevent cervical cancer and other diseases caused by infection with HPVs was approved for use in the U.S. in June 2006. This was the first vaccine to be developed against a known risk factor for the development of a cancer.

Cervista HPV Test Facts

  • A subgroup of the human papillomaviruses (HPVs) are known to cause cancers of the uterine cervix and other genital areas, the so-called "high risk" HPVs.
  • The Cervista test is used to diagnose the presence of DNA from the "high-risk" HPVs in cervical samples.
  • The sample for the test is taken in the same way that a Pap smear test is performed.
  • There are two Cervista tests available, Cervista HPV 16/18, which identified the two HPV types most likely to cause cancer, and Cervista HPV HR, which identifies all "high-risk" HPV types.
  • Cervista testing is not recommended for routine screening; rather, it is used in combination with physical examination, medical history, and other testing to help make decisions about management and follow-up on a case-by-case basis.

What is human papillomavirus (HPV)?

Of the more than 100 types of papillomaviruses (HPVs) that infect humans, more than 40 types can infect the anogenital tract (genital tract and anus) of men and women and cause genital warts (known as condylomata acuminata or venereal warts). A subgroup of the HPVs that infect the anogenital tract can lead to precancerous changes in the uterine cervix and cause cervical cancer or other genital cancers in women. The HPV types that cause cervical cancer also have been linked with both anal and penile cancer in men.

The most common HPV types that infect the anogenital tract are HPV types 6, 11, 16, and 18 (HPV-6, HPV-11, HPV-16, and HPV-18), although other HPV types can also infect the anogenital tract. Among these, HPV-6 and HPV-11 are most commonly associated with benign lesions such as genital warts and mild dysplasia of the cervix (potentially precancerous changes in the appearance of cervical cells under a microscope) and are termed "low-risk" HPV types. In contrast, HPV-16 and HPV-18 are the types found in the majority of cervical and anogenital cancers as well as severe dysplasia of the cervix. These belong to the so-called "high-risk" group of HPVs. Twelve other HPV types have also been identified as causes of cervical and other genital cancers, although these are less common that HPV-16 and -18.

HPV infections are transmitted primarily by sexual intimacy, and the risk of infection increases as the number of sexual partners increase.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 6/30/2015

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