The HPV PCR (polymerase chain reaction) test is a study performed to detect if a person has HPV and which type. If it comes out positive, the appropriate treatment to cure human papillomavirus should be followed.
It is advisable to have this test at least every 5 years if you are a woman and you are between 30 and 60 years old. This test is also indicated when a woman has had a Pap smear and the results have been abnormal.
What is the HPV PCR test?
The PCR (polymerase chain reaction) is not an exclusive study to detect HPV. In fact, it is applied not only for the diagnosis of various diseases, but also for scientific research.
But specifically talking about its use to detect the type of HPV, remembering that there are more than 200 types, what is done in a PCR test is to take a fragment of DNA from a cell previously taken from the epithelium of the cervix.
And this fragment is copied, which is known as DNA amplification. This allows determining whether there is viral DNA from the HPV family within the cells. And, if viral DNA is found, it also allows to identify exactly which variant of the human papillomavirus it belongs to, thanks to genotyping.
In this way, it can reveal whether the person is infected by a high, medium or low risk type of HPV, and take the necessary measures in case it is high risk.
According to the Pan American Health Organization, there are a total of 13 types of HPV that are strongly associated with the development of cancer. These are precisely the ones referred to as high risk.
Early detection is essential to prevent having a complicated outcome and the infected person ending up developing cancer.
What is the difference between Pap smear and PCR?
The Pap smear is another study that is frequently done to try to determine if a person is infected with the human papillomavirus.
However, this differs from the PCR test because it is not a molecular study. In the Pap smear, cells are studied, specifically their morphology.
In a Pap smear (also known as cytology), abnormalities in the cells are sought, which could indicate alterations or lesions caused by HPV. This type of analysis could help to make a presumptive diagnosis of HPV, but only a PCR test could confirm the existence of HPV and type the virus.
Generally, abnormal Pap smear results are accompanied by a positive result for HPV in a PCR test.
However, there are also cases where the Pap smear is normal and yet the PCR is positive for HPV. This occurs in those women who have the virus, but have not developed intraepithelial lesions.
How is the sample taken for the HPV PCR test?
If you have been recommended to take the HPV PCR test, or you have made the decision to do so on your own, here’s how the sample is taken:
- You should go to your gynecologist for a routine appointment.
- You will need to lie on your back on the examination table and rest your legs on the stirrups.
- The doctor will use an instrument called a speculum to keep the vagina open and better observe the cervix.
- With a soft brush or a plastic spatula, they will collect the sample, which can be used for both the PCR test and the Pap smear.
These were some tips to help you know how to deal with HPV. However, there is much more you need to do if you really want to get rid of HPV and warts forever.
What you need to do is GET RID OF THE ROOT of the problem.
For that reason, I recommend you to look into Dr. Kirkland's story and how he was able to cure HPV and get rid of warts for good.
I wish you great success in your recovery!
Medically reviewed by Dr. Amy Wilson. Dr. Amy Wilson, born in the United States, obtained her medical degree from Lincoln University School of Medicine. Specializing in obstetrics and gynecology, she’s dedicated 15 years to women’s health, becoming a distinguished gynecologist and serving in various U.S. medical institutions.