A troubling thought, isn’t it?
You went for a check up, with the Pap Smear and Colposcopy biopsy results make you confused and anxiously wonder:
Can HPV be positive and then negative… after that tested positive again?
Can you have HPV and test negative?
Let’s see what the medical studies revealed.
I Tested Positive for HPV – What Does That Mean?
There are 2 common tests conducted in regarding Human Papillomavirus: The Pap test and HPV test.
- Pap Smear test is a cervical screening procedure performed by health practitioner who collects sample tissues from female cervix for examination, to check if the cells are normal or abnormal.
The essence of the Pap test is to detect any signs of pre-cancers, distortion in cells which could potentially cause cervical cancer without treatment.
- HPV DNA Testing looks for presence of HPV virus (Human Papillomavirus) in the cervical cells, in which the HPV test can be carried out with Pap smear as co-testing, or through high-risk HPV DNA Test using Hybrid Capture 2 (HC2), ThinPrep Pap, or Aptima HPV assay. HPV can also lead to changes in cells.
The first indication of HPV in women is when the Pap smear test results return showing evident signs of abnormality. If you are tested positive for HPV, the table below indicates what do the HPV / Pap Test results mean, and what are the recommended next steps:
|HPV Test||Pap Test Results||What Do These HPV / Pap Test Results Mean||Recommended Follow Up As Next Step|
|Positive||Normal||High-risk type of HPV found, but no abnormalities detected in cervical cells.||One of the following:
1. Repeat Pap and HPV tests in 12 months.
2. Test for HPV16/18. If positive, colposcopy. If negative, repeat Pap and HPV tests in 12 months.
|Positive||Results unclear / inconclusive (ASCUS)||High-risk type of HPV found, and some cervical cells do not look completely normal. HPV infection is the likely cause of abnormalities in cervical cells.||Colposcopy to examine cervical cells under magnification|
|Positive||Abnormal (LSIL or HSIL)||High-risk type of HPV found, and abnormal cervical cell changes detected. HPV is the likely cause of abnormal cell changes in cervical.||LSIL: Colposcopy
HSIL: Colposcopy and immediate treatment
In video below, Dr. Oh elaborates more on what does it mean to be diagnosed with HPV.
A positive HPV test result indicates the detection of HPV type that might be prone to cervical cancer, but it is not an indication that you have been diagnosed with cervical cancer.
Abnormal pap smear with HPV positive mean the Human Papillomavirus has caused cervical cell changes – ranging from mild CN1 or Low-grade SIL (LSIL) to High-grade SIL (HSIL), CIN2 or CIN3 with moderate to severe abnormal cell changes.
The reports from the American Cancer Society indicate that the papillomavirus tends to become attached to specific cells known as squamous epithelial cells. These groups of cells are known to exist on the skin surface, and moist surfaces such as the vagina, anus, and the cervix and in the vulva.
When cervical high risk HPV DNA detected with positive test results, some testing can indicate the specific HPV type whether it is HPV 16 and 18 that cause 70% of cervical cancers, or it’s other non-16/18 high risk HPV type (like HPV-31 and HPV-45) that may cause cellular changes in the cervix.
Medical Studies: Can HPV be Positive and then Negative?
Have you experienced this change during your Pap Smear Test?
Sometimes HPV shows up on tests, and sometime it doesn’t.
You can be tested HPV positive years back, and by the time you got around to seeing a doctor again – you are tested negative for HPV.
Is HPV negative after positive possible?
In short, yes, it is possible to be HPV positive and then become HPV negative.
It is possible that a test you carried out for HPV many years ago might have been positive, and then your recent tests for HPV came back as negative with no trace of HPV.
The initial belief was that if you had previously been tested positive for HPV, your status would remain as positive for HPV the rest of your life.
However, medical study and clinical results have shown that this is not entirely true, because your body immune system can eliminate all traces of the HPV virus.
Recommended Read: How To Get HPV Out of Your System by Building Strong Immunity?
The U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) appraises that in over 90% of HPV infection cases, the patient’s bodies eliminate all traces of HPV within two years, with the clearance is usually witnessed during the first six months after infection.
Another medical study on 608 women of college age was part of the research carried out at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine. The outcome revealed that:
- 70% of women with prior HPV infections were found to be HPV negative within one year.
- over 91% of the sample turned out to be HPV negative within two years.
- A median duration of the infection as 8 months.
There is no certainty whether the patient’s bodies eliminated all traces of the virus, or the virus was simply suppressed to a low and undetectable level. These two situations could be possible depending on the case, and the strain of HPV initially detected.
In many occasions, the HPV infection detected in patients is less severe and does not have symptoms. The HPV will usually go away on its own, and the patient regains good health without being treated.
For women whose Pap smear tests turned out to be abnormal, there are many cases where the results revealed a change to normal over time, while women who previously tested positive for HPV later tested negative.
According to McGill University of Canada, about 1% of women will experience persistent HPV infection which could potentially lead to cancer.
This simply means if you test positive now, it is not necessarily going to be permanent, and there is good chance that you’re not HPV positive for life.
Can You Get Rid of HPV from Your Body – Is it Curable? Any Treatment?
Symptoms and health conditions caused by HPV in women and men can be treated. For examples:
- According to MedicineNet, moderate or severe cervical dysplasia can be treated with removal (resection) procedures like LEEP and hysterectomy, or through destruction (ablation) procedures like cryotherapy and carbon dioxide laser.
- Men diagnosed with HPV warts can be treated with topical wart removal ointments.
While the HPV virus itself does not have any cure, CDC claims human body can clear over 90% of HPV infections within 2 years. So if you are tested positive for HPV, it can go away on its own, and only persistent high-risk HPV in the body can cause cervical cancer (and anal/throat cancer).
For people who wants to get rid of HPV faster, there are natural remedies for HPV and dysplasia supported by clinical studies that may help.
One of them is natural mushroom extract Active Hexose Correlated Compound (AHCC), whereby researchers in the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston found that AHCC not only helped women achieved HPV negative results, but it also appears to be effective in eradicating persistent HPV infection. This is further testified by many actual user results. >> Learn More
Additionally, natural soluble fibers Beta Glucan with hundreds of scientific research also demonstrated its efficacy in getting rid of HPV-correlated lesions, as discovered by clinical studies conducted by Italian researchers in San Camillo-Forlanini Hospital and Sapienza University of Rome.
Living with High-Risk and Low-Risk HPV types
HPV high risk DNA detected in early stage should not be over alarming, because strains like HPV-16 and HPV-18 will not cause cervical cancer overnight, while most people do not feel any symptoms that have immediate impact on their quality of life.
According to Medscape:
The latency period between initial HPV exposure and development of cervical cancer may be months to years. Although rapid progression is possible, average time from initial infection to manifestation of invasive cervical cancer is estimated at up to 15 years.
Diagnosed with HPV warts, on the hand, may bring psychological impact and self-esteem related concern to patients (especially for people infected by genital warts) — however warts caused by low-risk HPV strains are not dangerous and will not be life-threatening.
Warts may either go away if left untreated, maintain its normal stature or multiply in number. Since wart virus is highly contagious, it’s recommended to go for treatment as soon as warts are found.
HPV Positive then Negative then Positive again — Is it Possible?
It is possible for a patient to test positive for HPV, then test negative, and later test positive again.
This could happen for 2 reasons:
- The HPV strain previously detected could have stayed dormant then reactivated, or
- The patient has had a new HPV type infection.
There have been confirmed cases of HPV where the virus lay dormant for many years before it was reactivated, and then it could return to its dormant status. This means you could still test positive for HPV after it has been undetectable in your system, as it may comeback.
There is no proven method to determine that HPV is totally eliminated from your body or if it was made dormant. This could explain why your result returned as negative due to the dormant state of the virus at that time and you later tested positive when the virus was reactivated.
It could take as long as 10 years before HPV in the cervix has any significant changes, while no scientific confirmation proves the virus cannot stay dormant for as long as 20 or even 30 years.
Related Read: How Long Can HPV Last in Your Body System Before Go Away?
For this reason, it is possible for a patient who previously tested positive to later test negative for HPV after some years, and then test positive again without any indication of a fresh infection or a compromised immune system — while we also know that exposure to a different HPV strain during sex could occur.
Negative HPV Test Now Positive – Why is it so?
It is also possible that your most recent Pap smear test show HPV positive, even though the previous test came back as HPV negative.
It might be puzzling how your initial test results showed that you were negative and within a year, a new test is positive.
This could have happened due to infection with a new/different HPV strain, or the virus from a previous infection was initially suppressed during the first Pap smear test but later reactivated from dormant state hence the positive result in the latest test.
HPV and Relationship: How to Deal with it with Your Partner?
When you first learn that you have HPV, you may get mad at your partner, or you may get hesitated whether to tell your partner that you have been diagnosed HPV positive.
First and foremost, you need to educate yourself on it and know exactly what you are dealing with.
Knowledge is power, and it can often help keep you calm, too, when you see that HPV is a manageable STI and often can go away on its own.
“I have HPV – Did My Partner Cheat?”
You feel as though he or she must have cheated in order to be able to contaminate you with this STI – since you didn’t cheat, after all.
The thing to remember is that this HPV virus can be in your body for years without your even knowing, so you could have contracted it at an earlier time without any kind of knowledge that you did.
It is not possible to know how long you’ve had contracted the HPV and who transmitted the virus to you, so the HPV virus could have been staying dormant in your body for all the time before the start of your current relationship.
Tested positive with sexual-related HPV virus could point toward your partner’s infidelity, but it’s not a definitive telltale sign.
Think through these before having an open discussion with your partner, and check out the video below in which Dr. Carrie Jones answered to the question “if a committed woman gets HPV – is that an indication that her partner is cheating?”
You also should make sure that you contact all of your past sexual partners and tell them that you have the diagnosis so that they can go ahead and get tested, too. It’s awkward without question, but it’s something that you need to do and be the better person for doing it.
“Should I Tell My Partner that I have HPV? How to Break the News?”
First, it is important to comprehend HPV before you think of discussing it with your partner. The knowledge gained will help you establish your own comfort level.
Avoiding myths and hype as well as getting factual information is one of the most important aspects of assisting your partner to have a great understanding of the virus. Since you are infected with the virus, adequate information of the same can help you cope with HPV better.
You can also direct your partner to various resources that you might have learned over time and you think it will be beneficial to him/her.
- HPV – Human Papillomavirus Fact Sheet by CDC
- How you can get HPV infection via these HPV transmission routes
It does not necessarily mean that you have done something wrong by having HPV. When you have conversation with your partner, bear in mind that the conversation should not be viewed as an apology or making a ‘confession’, though it is natural that question like “did my partner cheat” may surface.
At some point in time, individuals who are sexually active may develop the virus without even knowing that they have it. Most often there are no visible symptoms that show you have HPV unless it becomes worse. It only means that you have been exposed to the virus like many others. It may not be a reflection on your values or your character.
Surely, it may be challenging to break the news to your partner that you are diagnosed with HPV/STD; Watch the video below if you need some guidance.
Can You Have HPV and Test Negative?
Yes, it is possible.
The reports from the McGill University of Canada indicate that a negative HPV result might be an indication that your system has eliminated the virus, or the virus has simply become suppressed hence it is undetectable by the Pap smear test.
Coping with HPV: I have HPV Now What?
“Can I live a normal life with HPV?”
With CDC revealed there is about 14 million people become newly infected with HPV each year, you are certainly not alone in dealing with this most common sexually transmitted infection.
Receiving a positive test for HPV does not mean your life is over, though it’s normal to feel that way at first, and you are certainly not alone.
People should not be over anxious when it comes to living or coping with HPV virus. However, it is important to take the necessary steps to ensure that you have a normal life living with it, minimize your level of getting new infections related to HPV as well as that of your partners, and get yourself cleared of the virus before it cause severe health conditions like cancers.
Here are some guidelines on what to do when you have HPV:
• Stay positive
Keep positive thinking and develop a positive mindset is helpful when battle against medical setbacks like HPV infection or recovering from HPV treatment. Focus on the few things below and look forward.
• Follow up checkups are crucial
Adhere to the HPV screening guidelines from your healthcare provider; you can also see guidelines at the American Cancer Society for prevention and early detection of cervical cancer.
Doctor will provide professional advice after your HPV test shows positive results. The recommended next follow up steps may include colposcopy for further diagnosis, immediate treatment if HSIL detected, or repeat Pap and HPV tests in 12 months time. Ensure collaboration with your doctors.
• Boost body immune system
Your body immunity is the first defense line to clear the virus from your body while fight against new HPV infection. It is important at that you maintain a strong immune system to reduce the chances of dormant HPV being reactivated in your system. Improve your immune system by eating healthy, avoid smoking, and exercise regularly.
• Communicate with your partner
Get educated with HPV facts, open up about this topic and communicate it with your partner to develop a good understanding about it. Knowing more about HPV will help you along the way.
• Consider HPV vaccination
When there are 100 over types of Human Papillomavirus, HPV vaccine like Gardasil 9 is beneficial to protect you and your partner against infection of new HPV strains, even if you have been sexually active. >> Learn why it’s never too late to get HPV vaccination
• Use condom whenever you have sex
Direct genital skin contact is one of the key factor that cause the spread of HPV, that is the reason condoms are recommended as necessary precautions for couples who are sexually active. Your risk of HPV transmission will be minimized (but not fully eliminated) by consistent practice of safe sex, including avoid oral sex, avoid sharing sex toys with other people. This will also reduce the chances of you being exposed to a new strain of HPV.
If you or your partner is undergoing treatment for some infections related to HPV, it is advisable to refrain from sexual intercourse at least until the HPV symptom like genital wart is gone.