January 23, 2015 – HPV not Pap


Anchor lead:  Screening for cervical cancer will now consist largely of HPV screening, Elizabeth Tracey reports

Women in the US are accustomed to having a Pap smear to assess their risk of cervical cancer.  Now new guidelines employ testing for the HPV virus instead for most, with those women whose results are negative not recommended for retesting for three years.  Connie Trimble, an HPV expert at Johns Hopkins, says there is an upside to this strategy.

Trimble: One of the reasons it’s really good is that it’s completely objective, and persistent HPV infection is the proximate cause of disease, it’s the biggest identifiable risk factor, so if you can identify people who are at really, really low risk to get disease that’s a good thing.   :17

Trimble emphasizes that these guidelines are still under development, however.

Trimble: The purpose of a screen is to identify people at risk.  Sure, persistent HPV infection those are people who are more at risk but if we could develop some more quantitative additional algorithms I think that would be more useful.   :14

At Johns Hopkins, I’m Elizabeth Tracey.