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.
- 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 test is done to detect the virus (human papillomavirus); it 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.
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.
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.
In video below, Dr. Oh elaborates more on what does it mean to be diagnosed with HPV.
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.
Recommended Read: Discover These 11 Natural Remedies for HPV and Cervical Health
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.
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.
If You Have HPV – Now What?
Receiving a positive test for HPV does not mean your life is over, and you are certainly not alone.
Develop a positive mindset, focus on the few things below and look forward:
1. 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.
2. 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.
3. Practice safe sex always. Use condoms and avoid oral sex, avoid sharing sex toys with other people. This will reduce the chances of you being exposed to a new strain of HPV.