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Abnormal papsmear and cervical cancer. I am soooooooooo scared
May 26, 2002

Hello. I am a very scared woman, and I hope you can help me. Last November I met a man and we engaged in oral sex both ways, but he did not ejaculate in my mouth. I thought nothing of it, but 5 weeks later I was very sick with the flu, and just recently I went to have my annual check, and for the first time I had an abnormal papsmear. I am now very frightened that I have cervical cancer due to HIV. My question is: Is an abnormal papsmear indicative of HIV infection? and is it common in HIV affected woman. I am soooo scared. Please help me.

Response from Dr. Dezube

Abnormal PAP smears are very common. PAP smears are nothing more than an early warning system that further evaluation is necessary. It was much more frightful a long time ago when there were no PAP smears and women didn't find out about cervical changes until it was too late. Cervical disease is most often due to infection by the human papillomavirus (HPV). Abnormal PAP smears come in many different varieties. Depending upon what the abnormality is, the next step could be repeat PAP testing in a specified period of time; HPV testing to determine what strains of HPV you may be infected with (some strains are more worrisome than others); or colposcopy, a procedure by which a health care provider looks more closely at the cells in your cervix. Although cervical disease is more common in HIV-infected women, than non-HIV infected women, an abnormal PAP smear does NOT necessarily mean that you have HIV infection. That said, I do believe that you should be HIV tested. Knowledge is power. It pays to know since you may get different treatments and follow-up schedules based on whether or not you are HIV positive.

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