HPV and abnormal pap smears

What does it mean when my pap test shows HPV?  What’s the difference between an abnormal pap and HPV?

Part 1

The Pap test has been used since the early twentieth century to look for cancer of the cervix.  Over the years the original test has been refined and now this test looks for cancer of the cervix, pre-cancer of the cervix and sexually transmitted diseases.

HPV or human papilloma virus is a common virus that the Pap test can pick up.  There are about 100 different HPVs. The low risk virus group causes the warts sometimes seen on the outside of the genitals.  The high risk virus group can lead to pre-cancer and later, if not treated, cancer.

Research guesses that 80% of the general sexually active population in the United States carries at least one of these viruses.  That would include, moms and dads, and grandparents who of course are moms and dads and grandparents because at some time they were sexually active.

The Pap test is normal if there is no sign of pre-cancer –dysplasia, and no signs of cancer.

An abnormal pap test may have dysplasia, cancer, or neither and just say atypia.  Atypia just means “look a little closer, there may be something there.”