Cervical Smear Test & HPV

A sample of cells is taken from the cervix, the neck of the womb, and checked in a laboratory to look for any not normal cells. Cell changes are caused by the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV). This is a very common virus and most sexually active women will have been in contact with some of these viruses. We know that there are fourteen high risk HPV types. Minor cell changes are fairly common and usually clear up without any treatment. However if the cell changes are caused by a high risk HPV type, they are less likely to clear without treatment. Since 2015 samples showing minor changes are tested for HPV and if high risk HPV is found the woman is referred for further testing in a hospital outpatient colposcopy unit. In women where there are more significant cell changes, HPV typing is not done because a referral to a colposcopy unit is made.