HPV, or Human Papillomavirus, is a very common virus transmitted through sexual activity. There are over 150 different strains of HPV, and it is the high risk HPV strains that are responsible for about 70% of cases of cervical cancer.
About 75% to 80% of sexually active adults are estimated to have had an HPV infection at some point in their lives. For most, the virus clears on its own without treatment.
It usually takes having a persistent HPV infection for 10 or more years for pre-cancer or cancer to develop. Routine screening and follow-up is the only way to know for sure whether you have persistent HPV.
Cervical cancer is a very slow growing disease. And if caught early is almost always treatable. However, most women do not have symptoms. Finding out whether or not you have HPV is an important step in preventing and treating cervical cancer.