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Contradicting pap smear and HPV test results.

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Hi doctor, I am experiencing a strange situation. For me, I have recently done a pap smear test which had a negative result. One day later, I took a HPV test also. To my surprise, the result was positive. I have done a blood work and is it so, that HPV infection is just in blood and not in paps? Can it happen so? Or, is there any error in tests? Or is it a rare case that HPV infection is not reaching cervix and just roams around my blood, due to effective immunity system? Please give some light on my doubts.

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Category: Family Physician-GP
Dr. Cecelia J. Russ is online now

Expert:  Dr. Cecelia J. Russ replied 4 Days.

Thanks for the question. Pap smear test is done to detect presence of cancerous or precancerous cells in cervix. This is done because some types of HPV infections are the reason behind cervical cancer. Doing a pap smear test helps in ruling out a possibility of cervical cancer. Identifying a possibility of cervical cancer will help in preventing it at the earliest. But in your case, there are no symptoms or chances of cancerous cells in cervix. But it is advised to perform the test frequently to rule out a possibility, according to the suggestion of your doctor. In HPV test, a DNA test is conducted to detect the presence of HPV or Human Papilloma Virus in body cells. It is also done using the cells found in cervix. Presence of HPV and absence of cancerous cells means you are affected with that type of HPV which results in the formation of genital warts and not cervical cancer. So, it is unlikely that you should develop cervical cancer in future, but chances of getting genital warts remains. It is recommended to do pap smear tests frequently for the following two years to prevent the spread and reach of virus, in a timely manner. The ideal time frame for a retest is 6 months from now. If the viral infection is seen prominent in the successive years, necessary medical support should be sought. Anyway, HPV infections cannot be cured completely, but can be treated symptomatically. Hope my answer helps. Take care.

Dr. Cecelia J. Russ
Category: Family Physician-GP
- Medical School - New York Institute of Technology, New York College of Osteopathic Medicine
- Duke University Medical Center, Residency in Family Medicine
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