How is human papilloma virus (HPV) diagnosed?

There are no blood tests for HPV, but some tests can help your healthcare provider diagnose the infection:

  • Pap test: During this test, the healthcare provider removes a sample of cells from the cervix. The cells are then examined under a microscope to look for any changes in the cells, even if the patient does not have genital warts.
  • Colposcopy: For this test, a healthcare provider uses an instrument — called a colposcope — that shines a light and enlarges the view of the cervix. A vinegar solution is placed on the cervix. The solution turns abnormal cells that are infected with HPV white, so they can be seen more easily.
  • HPV DNA test: This test looks directly for the genetic material (DNA) of the HPV within a sample of cells. The test can detect the type of HPV connected to cervical cancer. The sample used for this test is generally collected at the same time as a Pap test.

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