How often should I get a human papillomavirus (HPV) test?

Starting at age 25, women should get a cervical swab to check for human papillomavirus (HPV). If a high-risk HPV strain (HPV-16 or HPV-18) is detected, patients are advised to proceed with colposcopy (examination of the vaginal and cervical tissue with a colposcope). If one of the other HPV strains is detected, the doctor will recommend a traditional Pap smear that looks at the cells on the cervix, then do a colposcopy only if there is evidence of precancerous changes.

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The human papillomavirus (HPV) test in combination with the Pap test is better at identifying women at risk for developing cervical cancer than the Pap test alone. The HPV test should be done every five years along with Pap test in women ages 30-65. It should also be done every five years in younger women with inconclusive Pap tests. 

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.