[Question #550] HPV

44 months ago
I have another question. I had a positive HPV16 test with pap smear, should I be requesting an anal pap also to check for the virus there? I have no issues that I am aware of, but have had HPV16 show up on cervical pap for the past 2 years. Thank you. 
44 months ago
Sorry - I meant to add that I have had anal sex a total of I think 3-4 times with 2 different partners several years ago, so I feel I am at higher risk. I am 40s female. 
H. Hunter Handsfield, MD
H. Hunter Handsfield, MD
44 months ago
Welcome back to the forum. But I'm sorry to see you're so concerned after Dr. Hook's reasoned, science based reassurance.

Anal HPV testing is not routinely recommended in this situation. Your low frequency of anal sex does not materially raise your risk of cancer from HPV 16, or any other type of HPV.

Your HPV infection is long gone. There is no reason for continued concern. As Dr. Hook said, the vast majority of people with HPV 16 do not develop cancer, either cervical or anal. Follow your doctor's advice if she recommended follow-up exams or pap smears. Otherwise, you can let this go.

Best regards--  HHH, MD


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44 months ago
Thank you for your reply. Just to clarify, so while my paps and the follow up colposcopies were "normal", the HPV test is still showing positive for HPV 16. So technically doesn't that mean that the infection is still active? 
H. Hunter Handsfield, MD
H. Hunter Handsfield, MD
44 months ago
Yes, the infection can be considered active as long as the test remains positive. But if the pap is otherwise normal, it means it's not currently doing any damage and that the chance of future cancer is zero for practical purposes. Cancer rarely if ever develops without first causing dysplasia -- the cellular changes detected by pap smear -- and the average time between onset of dysplasia and progression to cancer typically is 5 years or more. As long as you follow your doctor's advice about follow-up paps or other testing, you will be protected. And I would expect your HPV DNA test to become negative once again.

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