Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) testing and Cervical Cancer Vaccination
Human papilloma virus (HPV) is a sexually transmitted infection that causes genital warts, abnormal cervical cells or cervical cancer. The human papilloma virus (HPV) test is a screening test indicated in women above 30 years of age and for those who show an abnormal Pap test.
For the test, you will lie on your back on the examining table with knees bent and feet resting on supports. Your doctor inserts an instrument called a speculum into your vagina. The speculum gently spreads the vaginal walls so that your doctor can examine the inside of your vagina and cervix. A sample of your cervical cells is scraped and collected using a soft brush and a tiny spatula, and sent to the laboratory for analysis. Depending on the results, appropriate treatment is given.
Cervical cancer can be prevented by vaccinating both girls and boys ideally between the ages of 11 and 12 years, before they become sexually active. The FDA has approved two cervical cancer vaccines, known as Gardasil and Cervarix which are given in 3 doses across 6 months. If the 3 doses cannot be completed by age 12, it is recommended to receive the vaccine up to age 26. The vaccine is not advised during pregnancy, or when moderately or severely ill.