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Is there a test for HPV?

There are tests for HPV for women and people with a cervix, including HPV primary screening, HPV triage and test of cure.

We also have information on: 

What are the tests for HPV?

There are 3 main reasons why you may have a test for HPV:

  • HPV primary screening
  • HPV triage
  • test of cure.

HPV primary screening

In England and Wales, women and people with a cervix now have a test for high-risk HPV at cervical screening (a smear test). Scotland and Northern Ireland will also switch to using this test in the future.

Your cervical screening appointment will stay the same. The only difference is that the sample of cervical cells is tested for high-risk HPV first. The sample is only looked at for cell changes if you have high-risk HPV. This is a more effective test because it helps us identify who is at higher risk of developing cell changes or cervical cancer. 

Read more about HPV primary screening >

HPV triage

In Northern Ireland, a test for HPV is done if the sample of cervical cells taken during cervical screening show low-grade cell changes. This is usually called HPV triage. 

If you don’t have high-risk HPV, you will be invited for cervical screening every 3 or 5 years, depending on your age. This is because it is unlikely cell changes would develop into cervical cancer without high-risk HPV. 

If you also have high-risk HPV, you will be referred to colposcopy. 

Read about colposcopy >

Once Northern Ireland switches to HPV primary screening (see above), HPV triage will no longer be used.

Test of cure

In the UK, an HPV test is also used to show treatment for cervical cell changes has been successful. This is called test of cure. 

Test of cure is usually done 6 months after treatment. 

If you do not have high-risk HPV, you will be invited back for cervical screening every 3 years. 

If you have high-risk HPV, you will be invited to colposcopy again. 

Read more about test of cure >

Which HPV tests happen where I live?

Not all HPV tests are currently done in every country in the UK. 

 

England

Scotland

Wales

Northern Ireland

HPV primary screening

Yes

No (from late March 2019)

Yes

No (date to be confirmed)

HPV triage

No

No

No

Yes

Test of cure

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Is there an HPV test for men?

There is currently no HPV test for men or people without a cervix available on the NHS, as the result would not help the management or treatment of any related condition. 

 

HPV tests FAQs

HPV tests are only available free on the NHS as part of the national cervical screening programme or after you have had treatment for cervical cell changes. You are invited for cervical screening every 3 or 5 years, depending on your age. 

Read about cervical screening >

HPV tests are available privately for a cost.

If your partner has a cervix and is registered as female with a GP, they will be invited for cervical screening every 3 or 5 years depending on their age. In England and Wales, a test for high-risk HPV is done at cervical screening. Scotland and Northern Ireland will switch to this test in future.

Read about cervical screening >

If your partner does not have a cervix, there is currently no test available on the NHS. 

More information and support about HPV tests

If you want to know more about the HPV tests offered in your area, it is best to speak with your GP or a local clinic. We have more detailed information about some of the topics on this page, including:

We know that HPV can be confusing, so you aren’t alone if you feel that way. If you have questions we are also here to support you:

Thank you to all the experts who checked the accuracy of this information, and the volunteers who shared their personal experience to help us develop it. 

References

We write our information based on literature searches and expert review. For more information about the references we used, please contact [email protected]

Read more about how we research and write our information >

Questions?

If you have questions or concerns about HPV testing, get a confidential response from a medical professional.

Ask the Expert

Cervical screening >

Find out what cervical screening is for, who is invited and what to expect at the appointment.

Date last updated: 
10 Jan 2020
Date due for review: 
10 Jan 2022

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