HPV (Human Papillomavirus) is the most common family of viruses with over 100 different strains or types. Often HPV infections will have no symptoms and are easily passed to a sexual partner. Over 70% of women will contract HPV at some point in their lifetime. Most abnormal cell changes found on a Pap test are due to HPV and if left untreated, may develop into cervical cancer.
A HPV vaccine will protect against contracting a few common types of HPV.
Females between the ages of nine to 45 are eligible for the HPV vaccine. The HPV vaccine is currently available free of charge to all girls in Grade 7 in New Brunswick.
Yes. The HPV vaccine will protect you from a few types of HPV. By getting regular Pap tests you will make sure abnormal cells due to other types of HPV or other causes will be detected early and treated if necessary.
The HPV test checks for the presence of high-risk HPV types. Research shows that HPV testing can help identify women who presently have cervical lesions or are most likely to have precancerous changes and are at risk of developing cervical cancer.
In NB, the HPV test is recommended only for use in women 30 years of age and older as a follow-up to specific abnormal Pap test results. An HPV test is usually completed from a Pap test specimen. The HPV test is not used as a replacement for the Pap test.
More information on HPV testing is available at the Canadian Cancer Society.
New Brunswick’s HPV testing recommendations can be found at: New Brunswick Cervical Cancer Prevention and Screening Program Clinical Practice Guidelines.