What is HPV?

Human papillomavirus (HPV) is the most common sexually transmitted infection in the United States. HPV can cause cervical and other cancers cancers including cancer of the vulva, vagina, penis or anus. It can also cause cancer in the back of the throat, including the base of the tongue and tonsils.

Cancer often takes years, even decades, to develop after a person gets HPV. The types of HPV that can cause genital warts are not the same as the types of HPV that can cause cancers.

What do abnormal findings on a pap smear mean?

Abnormal, or pre-cancer, cells are known as dysplasia. HPV can cause Cervical Dysplasia. It causes paps to come back abnormally.  When talking about Cervical Dysplasia, the following terms are used:

  • Type 1 – Mild
  • Type 2 – Moderate
  • Type 3 – Severe

A pap smear is a random sampling of cells, it usually can’t be used for a diagnosis of dysplasia, abnormal findings can lead doctors to call for additional testing.

If I get HPV, how do I get rid of it?

HPV is a virus, there is no cure for it.

How do I treat HPV?

HPV does tend to be self-limiting. This means patients will often clear the virus in around 24 months, with exceptions going both directions. Sometimes, however, the virus will progress to the point of requiring additional procedures.

Smokers typically have a harder time recovering from HPV.

Is there a vaccine for HPV?

There is a vaccine that is often given to children that guards against some of the higher-risk types to HPV. While it’s not curative, it has shown to help prevent HPV from causing pre-cancer and/or cancer of the cervix.

Even if a patient has already contracted HPV, the vaccine will help guard against other types of HPV that could still be a threat.

The HPV vaccine is normally covered by insurance up to 25 years of age. This vaccine is offered by Pediatricians as well as Gynecologists.

Don’t let an abnormal pap go unchecked. Contact us for more information or to schedule an appointment.

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