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Managing HPV: A New Era in Patient Care

(Published June 2009)

Conclusion

Over the past several years, a number of important developments have shifted the landscape of cervical cancer screening:

  • It is now well accepted that persistent infection with high-risk human papillomavirus (HPV) is necessary for the development of cervical cancer.
  • Technology is available to detect current HPV infection through testing for HPV DNA.
  • Research has documented a high prevalence of HPV infection and has shown that the majority of these infections, and a proportion of those associated with cervical cytology abnormalities, will resolve without treatment.

These developments highlight the fact that screening and management can identify and treat women with early cervical cytology abnormalities and while minimizing unnecessary treatment of abnormalities related to transient infection. For optimal screening and management of HPV-related disease, clinicians must be familiar with these developments, apply the national guidelines for proper screening and management, and provide patients with appropriate counseling about HPV-related concerns.