Testing for high-risk human papillomavirus types will become a standard of clinical care
Women's Health Services
Testing for high-risk human papillomavirus types should become a standard of care for women in the United States because cervical cancer is an infectious disease. Current care is based on cytologic screening and a pathologic staging of cellular tissue changes. Before these cellular modifications, there is a demonstrable pattern of human papillomavirus infection. Human papillomavirus is the most frequently acquired sexually transmitted disease in women and is usually eliminated without treatment. Persistence of high-risk human papillomavirus types can lead to abnormal cervical cellular changes. When these cervical cellular changes occur, physician interventions hasten human papillomavirus elimination. Currently, adding human papillomavirus screening to the Papanicolaou smear identifies a population for closer follow-up studies. In the future a vaccine should be introduced to prevent infections, and medical treatments to hasten the elimination of high-risk human papillomavirus types should become part of standard medical practice.