How Often Should a Woman Get an HPV Test?If both the Pap smear and the HPV DNA test results are negative, a woman's healthcare provider may advise her to wait for three years before being re-tested. But more frequent testing is recommended if other high-risk factors are present, such as a weakened immune system (including in people with HIV, AIDS, or those taking immunosuppressant medicines) or a history of cervical cancer.
If only one of the tests is negative, the healthcare provider may advise the woman to return for re-testing in 6 to 12 months. But if the Pap smear shows a mild cellular abnormality (called atypical squamous cells of undetermined significance, or ASC-US) and the HPV DNA test is positive, the healthcare provider may recommend further tests. HPV DNA testing for women with mild cellular abnormality will help the healthcare provider determine whether the woman should have a colposcopy and biopsy.
Approximately 50 million women get Pap tests annually in the United States. According to the American Cancer Society, in 2003, 12,200 women will be diagnosed with cervical cancer. Approximately 4,100 of these women will die from the disease. With proper screening, cervical cancer is avoidable and -- if caught early -- curable.