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The HPV Test: Coming Soon to a Doctor’s Office Near You?  Is It Better than the Pap Smear for Detecting Cervical Cancer?

The HPV Test: Coming Soon to a Doctor’s Office Near You? Is It Better than the Pap Smear for Detecting Cervical Cancer?

The most common sexually transmitted disease in the U.S. is one most Americans have never heard of: the human papillomavirus or HPV, the cause of almost all cervical cancer. Now that leading medical journals report that high-risk strains of HPV can be detected, there is debate over the best approach to fighting cervical cancer. Could widespread HPV testing reduce the incidence of cervical cancer, or is the Pap smear still the best first line of defense? What can Americans do to protect themselves and their partners from this STD? And, how will health plans deal with HPV screening – and the women who test positive?

Dr. Mark Schiffman of the National Cancer Institute, and Dr. Thomas C. Wright, Jr., Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons, who are the lead authors of articles in the Journal of the American Medical Association about HPV testing, along with other experts, addressed these issues and more at an Emerging Issues in Reproductive Health Briefing. New data on public awareness and knowledge about HPV was also released.