Medically reviewed by Nancy Berman, MSN
Infection with high-risk types of human papillomavirus (HPV), the cause of cervical cancer, is common. By the age of 50, 80% of women will have had an HPV infection with one or more of 14 high-risk HPV types. Most infections are cleared within 24 months. If the virus isn't cleared and persists, cells may become moderately or severely abnormal (also called pre-cancer). The purpose of screening by Pap and/or HPV testing is to find and then treat pre-cancer to prevent cancer from occurring.
Get the answers to these commonly asked questions about HPV, cervical cancer and cervical cancer screening.