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What does It Mean if I'm HPV Negative?

By Ken Black
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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The term "HPV negative" means that a female likely does not have the human papillomavirus virus, which may cause cervical cancer in some women. While being HPV negative is a good thing, it does not necessarily mean a woman has no risk of cervical cancer because there are other causes as well. The HPV test is different from the Pap test, though it is possible the samples collected during the Pap test could be used to determine if someone is HPV negative or positive, thus making it very convenient for the patient.

Unlike a Pap test, which returns a result of normal, abnormal, or inconclusive, the HPV test generally comes back as either positive or negative. If the Pap test comes back abnormal, but the other test returns a result of HPV negative, it may require further study by a gynecologist. In such cases, the most important matter is to determine why one test shows a normal, or negative result, and the other shows an abnormal result. Seemingly contradictory results do not mean that the virus is present, but it could be.

The accuracy of the HPV test is very high, especially when it is combined with a normal Pap result. Those who are found to be HPV negative can be almost completely sure they do not have the virus. In fact, the accuracy of both tests together is more than 99.9 percent. If results are contradictory, the confidence factor may go down somewhat. That is why follow-up care is so important.

In order to get an HPV negative test, the cells examined must have no trace of HPV DNA. Generally, this DNA will be present in sufficient enough quantities that it will be detected upon examination. That is why the accuracy of the test is so high. Even if the presence of HPV is detected, it does not mean that a woman is going to get cervical cancer; it simply increases the risks.

Even with an HPV negative test, it is important to get tested periodically in order to ensure that problems do not come up later on. The most common risk factor for HPV is being sexually active, especially with multiple partners, which increases the risk. Therefore, those who initially test HPV negative should not assume they will remain so throughout the course of their entire lives. Staying negative often depends on selection of partners, and using protection while engaging in sexual activities.

The Health Board is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Discussion Comments
By fify — On Jun 22, 2013

@alisha-- There is a high risk HPV test in Canada that tests for some strains of HPV. But I don't think it's as reliable as DNA testing. A negative DNA test result for HPV is very reliable.

By ZipLine — On Jun 21, 2013

@alisha-- HPV testing for women is especially important because there is a high chance of cervical cancer in women with HPV.

You are right that DNA testing doesn't show the type of HPV virus that's present in the body. But at least it creates awareness in the individual that a virus is present and that there is a risk of cancer. Your girlfriend might not need treatment right now, but at least she will be getting cervical cancer screening to make sure that everything is going fine.

HPV is actually very common. In individuals with a very strong immune system, a negative or positive HPV result won't make much difference. Except that being positive means that you can pass it on to others. But for those with weak immune systems, HPV can cause physical symptoms and complications.

Since you have tested negative, you know that you absolutely do not have this virus. But your partner has tested positive, so you need to be very careful because she may transmit the virus to you through physical contact, oral and regular sex and even kissing. Take your precautions.

By discographer — On Jun 21, 2013

My partner was recently tested positive for HPV. I was tested immediately after and my results are negative.

I'm happy that I'm negative but I still have my doubts about this test. The reason is because my partner, who has tested positive, has not been given any HPV treatment. The doctor told her that since she has no symptoms of the disease, it is not necessary to do anything right now. They've just asked her to come back for a check up every six months.

I don't get the point of this test. What did my girlfriend get out of it? She knows she has HPV but she doesn't even know what type. Moreover, she can't do anything about it.

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