HPV Screening Has a New DIY Alternative
A simple home HPV test can keep you in control of your health. By this, we don’t only mean your sexual health, but rather your overall health. In fact, as you’ll see below, the majority of cervical cancer diagnoses are caused by Human Papillomavirus (HPV). As it turns out, January is Cervical Health Awareness Month. In particular, January 22-28 is Cervical Cancer Prevention Week. By empowering yourself to regularly test for Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs), you are ensuring that have the information you need about your self-care.
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What is HPV?
Simply put, HPV is the most common sexually transmitted infection. In fact, according to the National Center for Health Statistics, nearly half of Americans aged 18-59 have genital HPV. This infection can be transferred via skin-to-skin contact with the infected area of someone else who is infected. The virus is typically spread via vaginal, oral or anal sex.
As with most other sexually transmitted infections, symptoms are rarely present in someone with this infection. That said, there can still be many side effects from a virus that is undiagnosed or untreated. The most alarming is that, as mentioned above, HPV can lead to various types of cancer – most prominently cervical cancer. In particular, two HPV strains (types 16 and 18) actually cause 70% of cervical cancers and precancerous cervical lesions.
The Home HPV Test as a Pap Alternative
Gone are the days when the pap smear (or an HPV test and a pap smear) is the only way to determine whether or not a woman has cervical cancer. Several years ago, the FDA approved the HPV test for primary cervical cancer screening. The HPV test, including myLAB Box’s home HPV test kit, detects DNA from fourteen types of high-risk HPV (hrHPV), including the most problematic types: HPV 16 and 18. This data, called HPV genotyping, can be helpful in the medical industry for fighting positive hrHPV tests.
Why Women Over 30 Should Test
Often, Human Papillomavirus does not have symptoms until it is more advanced, making it more difficult to treat. Regular screenings can help to prevent the virus from advancing to a more serious phase. If women test regardless of whether they are experiencing symptoms, the infection is more likely to be diagnosed and treated. It will also prevent the infection from developing into something more serious. If the virus is left untreated and changes to the cervix are not detected early enough, the untreated abnormal cells can result in cervical cancer.
It is highly recommended that women who are aged 30 years and older regularly test for HPV. At this age, hrHPV infections require further evaluation. Since pre-cancerous changes to the cervix can lead to cervical cancer, hrHPV must be detected early on so that changes don’t become serious or life threatening. Knowing your status early can help you to prevent this.
A home HPV test kit is one way to test without stressing. That’s right – there’s no need to take time off from work, sit in a waiting room and pay for expensive tests. Instead, test when you want and where you want. Receive the same lab-certified results that you would from any clinic, doctor or medical facility.
What About Everyone Else?
Women Under 30 Years of Age
Women who are under 30 years of age do not need to order a home HPV test. When hrHPV infections are present in these women, their immune system usually clears it up in two years or less. Therefore, when the infection is detected in these women, it can lead to unneeded and damaging treatment and expenses. This doesn’t mean that these women shouldn’t be mindful of HPV. A vaccine is available for women and men who are under than 26 years of age.
Men of Any Age
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention does not recommend that men of any age get tested for HPV. Unfortunately, HPV tests for men are not as accurate or reliable as those for women. In addition, if a man were to test positive, there are no treatments available.
This is also the case when testing for hrHPV on non-cervical sites such as the mouth and throat.
How It Works
If you are a woman over the age of 30, a home HPV test is the most convenient and affordable testing option available. If you don’t believe us, take a closer look at how it works:
- Order your full STD panel online. (You even get free shipping!)
- Collect a sample using the easy-to-follow instructions.
- Send the sample off for testing. (More free shipping!)
- Receive your lab-certified results online in just days.
When there is such a simple way to help prevent cervical cancer, a home HPV test should be a no-brainer. Now is the time to take control of your health.
Reviewed by Luis Ferdinand M. Papa, MD, MHA
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