Human Papilloma Virus (HPV)
Human Papillomavirus (HPV) is a viral infection that affects the skin and linings of your body cavities. There are usually no symptoms and it is spread through skin to skin contact. Both men and women can be tested for HPV although the testing for men will not be as precise as testing for women and will require a urethral swab.
Eight out of ten people will be infected from the virus at some point of their lives in the UK. The virus mostly occurs on fingers hands, mouth and genitals. There are many different types of HPV from which most are harmless, but around 30 of them can cause cancer (cervical cancer).
Of particular interest in sexual health are the forms of HPV that cause genital warts and contribute to cervical cancer. A vaccine is available both as part of a national vaccination programme and privately for older girls and women.
At our clinic, we test for HPV with every cervical smear and the sample is screened for the high risk subtypes of the virus that contribute to cervical cancer. If you are positive for any of the high risk subtypes, our advice about how often you should have a smear will change accordingly.
A cervical smear is a test to check the changes in the cells of the cervix that may develop into cervical cancer, if untreated. If the cancerous cells are detected early, they can be prevented from multiplying.