If you receive an abnormal Pap smear result and your doctor tells you that it may be due to an infection with HPV (human papillomavirus), you may start to worry about what it means for your health. You may have heard that HPV increases a woman's risk of cervical cancer, but an abnormal test result doesn't mean that you have cervical cancer now. HPV is a common virus, and four out of five people will be diagnosed with the virus in their lives. Most women who have it do not necessarily develop cervical cancer.
HPV is a virus that causes cervix cell changes. An HPV test confirms the existence of HPV. The test can be done along with a pap test, even using the same swab, although a second swab is generally preferred. Having a pap test with an HPV test is the ideal way to identify early cervical cancers in women 30 years and older.
If you are a female aged 30 and above, with no history of HIV, genital cancer, or pre-cancer, you should have a pap and HPV test every five years until you are 65. You may want to confirm if your health insurance covers these tests. It's then acceptable to continue with having only pap tests every three years.