Diagnosis of Human Papilloma Virus

Cutaneous or genital warts are quite easily recognized by clinical examination alone. Dysplasia or precancerous lesions caused by HPV are generally identified through screening tests like a pap-smear.   Although not routinely done, pap-smears can also be done on the anal area and should be considered in patients who are at high risk, like patients who have receptive anal sex. People are not routinely screened to see if they have been exposed to HPV if they do not have any symptoms. Human Papilloma Virus is not found in the blood therefor there are no blood tests to determine HPV presence by drawing blood. A test to determine HPV antibodies is being developed but is currently only being used for research purposes.

  • Medical History
    A medical history always forms an important part in the diagnosis of a patient. The medical professional should ask about the symptoms which are present, when they started, how severe they are and why they are bothersome to the patient. This will help to determine the most appropriate management. A sexual history is also important because this is the way HPV is contracted. It is also important for the doctor to note any other conditions and illnesses which the patient might have as well as any treatment which the patient is taking.
  • medical-examination

    Medical examination

  • Medical Examination
    As mentioned, skin warts and genital warts are usually easily diagnosed through clinical examination alone. The doctor should also examine for any infections which may be present. The patient should also be checked for the presence of any other conditions which may affect further management of the patient. If indicated a vaginal examination may be performed in female patients who are at high risk of cervical cancer. (An example of an indication for a vaginal exam would be an HIV positive woman with weight loss and abnormal vaginal bleeding.) The doctor may first use a speculum which is inserted into the vagina to visualize the cervix. Abnormalities of the cervix may also be felt by a medical professional on vaginal examination. The doctor should also do a general physical examination which includes palpating for any abnormal lymph nodes which may be present.
  • Cytological testing

    Cytological testing

  • Cytological testing
    A pap smear is used as a screening test to detect any changes present on the cervix as a result of Human Papilloma Virus. It is also possible to perform a pap-smear on the anus in patients who are at high risk of anal cancer. Liquid-based Pap smears are more sensitive in detecting HPV than other pap smears. A pap-smear test may be a bit embarrassing and slightly uncomfortable but is not painful. This test can be done within 5 minutes.



  • Colposcopy
    A colposcopy examination is done in almost the same manner as visualizing the cervix with a speculum. Sometimes the cervix is stained with a type of vinegar solution which makes it easier to visualize any cervical changes which may be present as a result of Human Papilloma virus. If necessary a biopsy can also be done of the cervix during this procedure.


    PCR test

  • PCR of Human Papilloma Virus
    A PCR test can be done on skin scrapings to determine the presence of Human Papilloma virus. A PCR can also be performed on a biopsy to determine the presence of Human Papilloma virus. A PCR test for HPV looks directly for the presence of the DNA of Human Papilloma virus.