Human papilloma virus is now recognised as the major cause of cervical cancer. Although other factors like smoking can contribute to your risk, the general consensus is, the presence of a high-risk type of human papilloma virus is necessary.
Most sexually active women have been exposed to human papilloma virus, which can infect the cervix. In most women the virus disappears naturally over time. However, some women have difficulty in getting rid of the virus particularly if they smoke. Persistent infection can lead to abnormal changes in the cervix. Women with these abnormal changes do not have symptoms - the only way they can be found is by checking them with a smear test.
Human papilloma virus is very common and most sexually active women will have been exposed to it. In the majority of women, the body's immune system fights off or suppresses the virus before it causes problems. When the infection doesn't go away on its own, certain types of papilloma virus that are called "high-risk", can cause cell changes that may develop into cervical cancer if not detected and treated early.
The purpose of this research program is to investigate the population prevalence of human papilloma virus in the Irish cervical screening population and use of human papilloma virus testing in the diagnosis, treatment and management of women in the Irish population with abnormal smears.
We will focus on the following groups of women:
- Women with persistent low grade abnormal smears who have been referred for colposcopy.
- Human papilloma virus testing in the post-treatment setting.
- Human papilloma virus testing in women over 30 years of age.
- Survey of human papilloma virus prevalence in the Irish population.