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HPV triage

HPV triage is currently only offered in England, Northern Ireland and Wales, but not in Scotland. The test is used when a woman has a cervical screening result of borderline or low grade squamous dyskaryosis.

The HPV test is important because it allows earlier identification of women who need treatment. Women with minor cervical abnormalities (low grade squamous dyskaryosis) only have around a 15–20% chance of having a significant abnormality that requires treatment [1].

If a woman does not have a high risk HPV infection, even though her screening result showed slightly abnormal cells, the risk of these abnormalities turning into cancer are extremely low; thus, the woman can return to normal routine screening [2].

HPV triage is done using the same sample of cells that were taken during your cervical screening test and it will look for high risk HPV infections. If the test is HPV positive, meaning there is a high risk HPV infection, the woman will be invited to attend a colposcopy clinic. If the test is HPV negative, meaning there is no high risk HPV infection seen, the woman will be returned to routine screening every three or five years depending on her age and where in the UK she lives.

1. NHS Cervical Screening Programme, 2010. Colposcopy and programme management, Guidelines for the NHS Cervical Screening Programme (2nd Edition). NHSCSP Publication No. 20, 12–13.
2. Sahasrabuddhe et al., 2011. Human papillomavirus and cervical cancer: biomarkers for improved prevention efforts. Future Microbiology 6(9), 1083–1098.
Date last updated: 
01 Jun 2016
Date due for review: 
26 Jan 2019

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