Human Papilloma Virus
Human Papillomavirus (HPV) is a viral infection and most people will come into contact with the virus at some time in their lives and will spontaneously clear the virus from their body within a few months (as happens with other viruses like the cold and flu). However, a small minority of women will not clear the virus and will have a higher than normal risk of developing cervical abnormalities. Persistent infection with HPV can lead to cell changes which if left untreated, could develop into cervical cancer.
Testing for HPV is done the same way as a smear test (a sample of cells are collected from the cervix) and are sent to the laboratory for testing. A positive HPV test does not mean that you will develop cervical cancer but it does provide additional information about potential risks to your health and enable the doctor to monitor you more closely.