HPV positive - positive Story

I just wanted to drop by and leave a message of positivity for anyone who has received a HPV positive result after attending a cervical screening. If you are feeling anxious, worried, ,ashamed or embarrassed.
As you read my story, please be aware that I am an anxious person and I suffer from PTSD. I hope that I can bring hope and reassure to anyone, who is in a similar situation!

A year ago, I went to get my smear test, as I always go! I was almost a year overdue because of Covid.
Usually, all is fine. I’m 40 and have had so many of them, it never bothers me.
There was a student nurse observing my test. I was happy to help her gain experience. Naturally, the nurse did everything ‘by the book’ and told me that so had an ectropian on my cervix. She said it’s normal and harmless. Then she started to explain how I’d get my results through the post and said twice ‘ if you need to discuss them with anyone contact us here, I’m available to discuss any questions you may have.’ That threw me. I’d never had the nurse say that to me before. Of course she was just modelling good patient care to the student, but anxious me, felt alarmed.
I received my result, this time, with a big fat HPV positive and felt ashamed and a bit scared.
I read the letter, several times, which asked me to go back for another smear in 12 months and then I committed the ultimate sin of looking online.
I started to read that most people have it at some point ( yes, even the high risk HPV - nurse told me) and that the majority of people clear it without any issue ( again yes, even the high risk HPV). That was it. I was convinced that I was not most people.
The issue sat at the back of my mind for an entire year. Not worrying me, but I couldn’t shake off that feeling that I was ‘ infected’ and bound to not be fortunate enough to clear it at my age. Plus I vape - a lot. I know, it’s a terrible habit I am trying to quit. I’d read that smoking was terrible for clearing HPV and could not find out if vaping (nicotine) was as bad. I’d tell myself ‘ well at least I don’t smoke’ but truthfully, I was worried that my vaping habit would hinder my chances of clearing HPV. I vowed to quit it after my HPV diagnosis and even started taking multivitamins to boost my immune system - both of which lasted only a few months.
I thought I knew who I’d contracted it from ( almost 2 years before the test). I cannot be 100% sure that I hadn’t had it longer, as this smear was the first time I’d ever been tested for HPV. Either way, I knew that I was at least very close to the 2 years they say it takes to clear it and yet… I’d tested positive.

It might be TMI but I started to worry about where else I could have HPV lurking ( places where they don’t test - if you know what I mean). If I didn’t clear it, how could I be sure that those areas wouldn’t be at risk of developing cell abnormalities or cancer in later life?
A year later, I received my letter to come for my retest smear. Pure fear, that I’d have to find out if my immune system had worked or not. I was worried that if it hadn’t, I’d inevitably have to get treatment for cell changes in the future and that this whole issue would just continue until then.
I put my ‘big girl pants’ on and booked and attended the smear clinic straight away.
Once there, I was full of anxiety, asking the nurse about my chances of still having it or even of developing cell abnormalities. She tried to reassure me, but naturally, I didn’t really feel reassured. I was just convinced that it would be disappointing news. No matter who told me to be calm and said ‘it’ll all be fine’, I didn’t listen really and I didn’t believe them. Cancer has dominated my life story. Not me personally but all of my loved ones have had it or died from it. Hence the anxiety overload.
I bled a tiny amount straight afterwards, which is normal and the nurse ensured she got a good amount of sample.
That was it. Test done. Too late to back out, I was going to find out if it had gone, stayed or developed.

So the wait began again. Every time a piece of post came through the door, my heart would uncontrollably race. Expecting a still positive result, or, as it had been a year since - cell abnormalities.

Well, the letter arrived, 2 weeks later. HPV NEGATIVE. They didn’t test for cell abnormalities as the result was negative and no symptoms or previous cell changes.
I’m back to 3 year tests now. Could not believe it.
Moral of the story is this - if you get HPV positive result, it’s absolutely common. People just don’t talk about it. Don’t beat yourself up about it. Book and attend all of your smear test appointments and recalls.
I’m glad I went, even though I’m a wuss.
If you have just received your positive result and you are anxious like I was, bookmark my true story here and come back to read it whenever you feel worried about clearing HPV. I hope it helps someone feel more optimistic and relaxed.

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Thanks for your story. I am one of those that have just got the dreaded positive result. I spoke with the nurse today and she kept saying I had tested positive for high risk HPV (the letter only said I was positive for HPV and no detail of what the risk level is). So hearing her say high risk has just sent me spiralling even more.

I too have a family history of cancer so my brain has automatically gone there in terms of I’m destined to be one of the unlucky ones.

I now have to embark on the 12 month wait for my next smear (I already have a note on my phone calendar to make sure I book it). I just feel like my life is currently on hold for now. The worst of it is that I can’t do anything, there’s no treatment options or medicine I can take I just have to sit back and wait, which just worsens my anxiety. I’m trying to remain positive, but it is hard and I do find myself getting really over emotional. I’m also becoming acutely aware of each twinge and pain in my body and convincing myself that this is the start of something really bad happening.

At least your story has offered me some reassurance and hopefully in 12 months I too will have a good outcome to all of this.

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