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Pap Tests Can Be Safely Delayed

Pap Tests Can Be Safely Delayed


Newly developed cervical cancer screening guidelines for HIV-negative women that say a negative human papillomavirus test coupled with a normal Pap test can safely delay subsequent Pap testing to only once every three years may also be applicable to HIV-positive women, according to a study in the March 23-30 edition of the Journal of the American Medical Association. Scientists at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine say their study of HIV-negative and HIV-positive women who were clear of HPV infection showed no difference in the incidence of cervical lesions--a precursor to cancer development--between the groups. Because invasive cervical cancer is an AIDS-defining event, HIV-positive women have been urged to be given initial Pap tests six months apart and then annually thereafter. But with recent studies showing that HPV infection is linked with virtually all cases of cervical cancer, a negative HPV test may mean that HIV-positive women also can be safely given follow-up Pap tests every three years, the researchers conclude.

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