How long has HPV been tested for?

Hi Ladies
I am in my 50s. Had an HPV positive result with my smear in 2015 and colposcopy and all ok. 2018 smear no sign of HPV. 2021 HPV positive again and low grade abnormal cells and to go for another colposcopy. Worried about it and what they’ll find this time.
When was it routine for HPV to be tested for? Could I unknowingly have been positive before my 2015 test? Possibly for years?
I’d obviously cleared of HPV for my 2018 test but now it’s back. Will this be permanent cycle?
Thanks all

I don’t know the answer but I’m wondering this myself. My first ever smear was 2011 and was normal, second one 2014 normal, 2018 hpv positive/ low grade but all clear and now 2021 high grade cin2/3, hpv positive and need LLETZ.
I feel that my last smear in 2018 should not have been put back to 3 yearly as I can’t understand how it went from low to high needing treatment in 3 years?!
I can only guess that they test after 30 years old maybe as that was my first hpv positive? I’ve been with my partner 15 years so surly
It would have been picked up in my smears so guessing they test from 30?!

Routine HPV testing is relatively recent. Not all NHS areas started testing at the same time. I had a smear in 2017 and it wasn’t tested (I’m North London). At a colposcopy in 2020 it was, and it was there, of course. It’s difficult to say without asking your health authority.

1 Like

Hi Jenny

I’m not an expert but I hope the following information helps:

Before 2011 cervical samples were just checked for abnormal cells and I don’t think any routine HPV testing was done.

2011/12 an HPV triage was introduced in the UK, whereby samples with cells showing borderline or mild changes were triaged using an HPV test:

see following link:

In 2019 HPV primary screening was rolled out across England, whereby cervical samples are first checked for HPV; samples which are positive for HPV are then checked for cell abnormalities;

see link:

It’s very possible that you were unknowingly positive for HPV before 2015 and possibly for years. One of the things that makes HPV tricky is that it can lie dormant in the body in which case it won’t cause problems and tests wil be negative. However, HPV can reactivate at any time; I don’t think anyone can tell you if you’re on a permanent cycle but a hysterectomy is one option if the problems persist.

If there’s one thing that’s worse than knowing you have HPV/cell abnormalities it’s ‘sleep walking’ into a cancer diagnosis - I’ve never known my HPV staus, got complacent and stopped going for smears; diagnosed stage 2A cervical cancer age 60y - see my back story.


1 Like

Thanks all for your comments. Since my previous smears have had no mention of my HPV status either way and no mention of any abnormal cells, I conclude HPV status wasn’t checked prior to 2015, so the positive in 2015 could either have been new or a reappearance of longstanding infection. Seems it comes and goes and there’s nothing you can do about it. Luckily it’s now checked so we can take action if it proves there are abnormal cells.
Hopefully we’ll all be ok

1 Like