Human Papilloma Virus (HVP)
Women in Wiltshire will benefit from the new test for High Risk Human Papilloma Virus (HR HPV) which is being introduced from April 2012 as part of the NHS Cervical Screening Programme.
HPV is a common infection and most women get it at some point in their life. In most cases it clears up by itself without the need for treatment, but in some women the virus persists, placing them at greater risk of developing cervical cancer.
Clinical studies have identified that almost 100% of cervical cancers show evidence of HR HPV infection, and detecting HPV at an early stage can reduce the risk.
The HPV test will be carried out as part of the routine smear test, and no additional sample is required. Women will be informed of the results of the screening and HPV tests in the normal way, and will be advised if any treatment is necessary.
If a woman has treatment, she will be invited back to have another test 6 months after completing the treatment, to check that it has been successful. All women in the eligible age group –between the ages of 25 and 64 – will remain in the screening programme and be invited for routine screening as required.
About 2,900 women are diagnosed with cervical cancer in the UK each year. It is the most common cancer in women under 35 years old and over half of all cases are diagnosed in women under 50. Every year in Wiltshire six women die of the condition.
There are a number of actions that women can take to protect themselves against cancer:
- Practice safer sex – use a barrier method such as a condom to prevent HPV infection.
- Do not smoke, as smoking increases your chances of getting cancer.
- Attend your screening appointment. All women aged 25-64 who are registered with a GP are regularly sent invitations to attend for screening.