HPV is the Human Papillomavirus, most commonly associated with cervical cancer in women. There are over 100 types of HPV, around 40 are thought to be sexually transmitted. Of these, 15 are “High Risk” for being present in people who go on to develop cancer. The most common cancer they are associated with is Cervical Cancer in women, but they are also found in other cancers such as: penile, anal, throat, mouth, ovarian. Low-Risk HPVs include those which are responsible for most cases of genital warts.
Testing for HPV has been by swab test. For women, this means a swab of the cervix or vagina. For men, this is much harder and really needs a blemish to be swabbed. This can be a suspected genital wart. However, it is much harder for men to find out if they are carrying the High-Risk types which could lead to cancer.
There has been much in the news of later of a urine test for HPV. This test would be less invasive than a cervical swab, but would not be a replacement for a PAP or Cervical Smear. A Smear test looks to see if there are any pre-cancerous changes in the cells of the cervix. This could happen with (most likely) or without an HPV infection. The new test is not as accurate as the swab tests for the DNA of the virus but can be used alongside a smear test for some women. Crucially, it could also be used in men.
This study looked at 1,443 women and was not as accurate as the current Better2Know tests, but with improvement in testing to come, this test could be used in both men and women in the future.