I have been reading a lot of posts and that just confuses me. Can you tell me if a person tests positive for HPV only when its active? I have been married for 20 years have never had any cervical changes or warts. I quess if I would have ever had it my immune system must have taken care of it. I don't know if I ever had it. If your immune system took care of it would you still test positive? Could it ever become active? Aren't most cases taken care of by your immune system and you never even know you ever had it? Is it a small percentage of women who get active HPV 15 or 20 years later. Please help me to understand
I think some of the confusion is the difference between high risk and low risk HPV. I'll address only high risk HPV (which can lead to cancer).
From what I understand, it can become dormant and then reactivate later in life. Why? I don't know.
From what I've read it seems that most people are able to fight off HPV and never have negative symptoms. It is a minority of people who develope dysplasia or cancer.
When it comes to the question of "if you had it in the past, but it is inactive/dormant, does it show on the test" I *think* there are 2 types of tests. The HPV/DNA test shows active virus, the other test detects antibodies. I'm not positive, though. I'll be curious for others to jump in and answer that question.
Have you read much at the Center for Disease Control? They have a lot of good information about HPV.
Thank you for your quick reply. So what you're saying is most people if they do not have any symptons of high risk , if they ever did have it that their immune system has probably taken care of it. Only a small percentage show cell changes after a significant time.
Pickles, I have a question for you. I've been reading your posts and I see that you had been married for 16 years. Did they check you for HPV because you had an irregular pap? Was that your first irregular pap? I had an irregular pap about 12 years ago but it was due to low estrogen effecting my cells. When my body adjusted to the lower amount of estrogen I had, it cleared up. They did biopsies in the cervix at that time in order to find out why the irregular pap.
Unfortunately, there are no symptoms with high risk HPV (unless it has caused a lot of cellular damage and leads to dysplasia and/or cancer).
59, I have never had a bad pap. I started having paps at 19, had one every year, and I am 45. Even my last pap (before the cancer diagnosis) was good. I *never* had a bad pap!
The only way we found the cancer so early was because my regular doc did the HPV/dna test when she did my last pap. The pap was ok, but the HPV test came back positive for high risk HPV. I got freaked out, so she sent me to a gyn for a colposcopy with possible biopsy (instead of waiting 3 or 4 months to retest).
The gyno did the colpo, but didn't need to take any biopsies of the exocervix. There was no dysplasia there. "Just to check" she did an ECC (endocervical curettage) to check the endocervical canal. That came back adenocarcinoma in situ (highest level of precancer). She ordered a cold knife cone biopsy (with another ECC, D&C, and encometrial biopsy). The cone back back adenocarcinoma Ia1.
I then went to a gyn/oncologist. She said I needed a hyst to remove my uterus and cervix.
I am amazed and relieved to know that my doctors were so proactive. I can hardly believe they found the cancer at such an early stage.