First of all, the good news is that the body’s immune system usually eliminates the virus without treatment within about two years. But according to Brewer, we don’t have any standard tests for HPV cancers other than cervical cancer. “For anal cancer, gay and bi men should think about getting an anal Pap test every few years,” he s…
Best case scenario, the immune system eliminates the HPV without ever causing symptoms or further complications. Unfortunately, there is no way to know if/when this happens.
While the Pap smear is highly effective at detecting cervical cancer, it merely detects abnormal cervical cell changes, without ever definitively attributing these cellular changes to any particular virus or infection.
What I mean is that a young woman could be diagnosed with cervical dysplasia (the development of abnormal cell changes on the cervix) without a diagnosis of HPV. A Pap smear doesn’t test for, or reveal the presence of, HPV. So even with an abnormal Pap smear, you may still never know if it was caused by HPV infection.
Interesting, well-researched article!