Smear test result HPV positive

Hi all, 

I have never posted on anything like this before so am a little apprehensive. 

I have recently got the results from my 3rd routine smear back and it's HPV positive and need to go back in a year's time instead on the usual 3.

I have had sleepless night since the letter arrived. Obviously my worry is it developing into abnormal cells but also I am 34 and have been with my husband since we were 16 and as far as I was aware we had never been with anyone else. I'm now worried that due to the fact my previous smears were OK that he has had an affair. It's making me feel sick to my stomach and I just don't know what to do.

I have never had an STI or anything so this has totally floored me. 

I also feel I just don't know enough about what being HPV positive actually means. 

Please can someone help my understand this better


Being HPV positive really just means you will always have to be proactive about smears because you have a heightened risk for cervical cancer.  That said, most people clear the virus naturally within two years and never have another problem again.  There is really nothing you can do to speed that up other than to stop smoking if you do.   Also , there are some studies that find that birth control pills can make it harder to clear the virus, so you might want to consider your contraception. But, chances are this is nothing at all to worry about and will be gone next year when you go for your smear.

As for gets trickier there.  The virus came from somewhere. It can be dormant for decades, so you could have gotten it at age sixteen and it is just showing up now.  It does not mean that he has cheated on you.  But if you have truly never had another partner, then he did at some point.  It is worth noting that HPV lives on skin, so it can also be transmitted through genital contact without penetration and through oral sex. Condoms are not really even completely effective for preventing it because of that. So, maybe one of you had that kind of relationship before you first got together and it came from there. It is literally impossible for anyone to know when they got HPV or from whom since it hides so well and can be present and cleared and then come back.  It is a tricky virus.

I would not make myself sick over it.  It is probably just a good time to talk to your partner and explain what is going on so that you can get to the bottom of it  and have some peace.  It is nothing that will overly change your life at this point or couse you major issues, so you definitely don't want to cause unneccessary stress for no reason.

Best of luck.

Laurie Beth thank you so much for your reply. You have helped me have a better understanding of what HPV is. 

It's going to be a long year waiting to find out if its cleared. 

I have had a heart to heart with my husband he is adament that he hasn't been with anyone else. I felt better for the chat but still very confused. 

Again thank you so much for taking the time to help it means alot as I have really let this get to me. 

Hi Ariel

Laurie Beth has given a very good reply to your post.  I was just going to second that HPV really is a tricky virus; for sure there's a lot of it around and it does seem incredibly easy to catch.  Certainly when I was a youngish teen I had some encounters that I would barely count as sexual ones, done in the spirit of curious naive friskiness  - e.g. his and my hands in many places which I think might possibly result in swapping viruses despite no genital to genital contact.  Sharing sex toys can lead to infection with the virus.

It's ironic that HPV testing has resulted in a lot of anxiety when in fact it is a great initiative which is predicted to result in several hundreds less cervical cancer cases every year in the UK in the coming years.


Hello all

I agree with all 3 of you on different levels; firstly I can empathise with the huge shock of an HPV diagnosis and the subsequent realisation that I am at a higher risk of cancer and the anxiety which goes with that. I have spent a lot of time teaching myself more about it and now know that pretty much everyone has it at some point in their lives but that some of us get to keep it for a bit longer than others because of our immune systems. Secondly it has made me aware of how little I understood the screening process and how little I understood my own body. There is a really good book called The gynae geek which explains lots of women's health issues but also what is normal/not normal and when to seek medical help. Wish I'd read it years ago to seek help for heavy and painful periods which I just put up with (although when I mentioned it to the nurse at my well woman check up she was very dismissive - that particular nurse has since retired from the practice and the current staff are much better - too late for me though as I am now post menpausal). Thirdly, and for me most importantly, I think that GPs, nurses and counsellors need more training on talking to patients about HPV. When I referred myself for health anxiety I had to explain it to my counsellor who is the same generation as me. I had very little sex education at school (I missed the one talk on contraception and sexual health as I was at the orthodontists) so learned most things from Jackie and Cosmopolitan and the grapevine as sex was a taboo in my home. I am otherwise a very educated person and feel somewhat ashamed of my own ignorance and naivety. Perhaps there needs to be more awareness raised about HPV on TV/social media to remove the stigma. On my GPs website they have put a good explanation about it but until I was diagnosed I never read it! The hospital staff I had were also brilliant and if you have a clinical nurse specialist you may also find it useful to talk to them. I'm sure they will support both you and your husband.

The best thing you can do once you have got your head round it all is to focus on what you can do and lead as healthy a lifestyle as you can to take care of your immune system.

All the best


Anyway, rant over. Don't let this dent your self esteem or wreck your relationship Ariel. Neither you nor your husband have done anything wrong; in fact you have done the right thing by going for your screening. I do feel, having read several posts on here, that partners of those diagnosed with HPV should receive education and support and maybe couples' counselling but only if the counsellors also understand HPV!! Second rant over! 

Jo's helpline is brilliant if ever you need emotional support Ariel and you can also access more information on HPV on the website. I have ordered some of their free information leaflets as well in case I ever need to explain HPV to anyone.