Unnecessary Pap, HPV Tests Still Common

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Pap, HPV Testing Unnecessarily High in Under-21-Year-Olds
Pap, HPV Testing Unnecessarily High in Under-21-Year-Olds

HealthDay News -- The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) recommended against Pap and human papillomavirus (HPV) testing for women younger than 21 years in 2009, yet many in this age group are still undergoing the procedures, study findings show.

Despite decreases in the proportion of women younger than 20 years who receive Pap testing as part of the well-woman exam -- from 77% to 57% between 2008 and 2010 -- more than half still had a Pap test performed, Jacqueline M. Hirth, MPH, PhD, from the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston, and colleagues reported in the American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology.

In addition to ongoing high rates of Pap testing, HPV testing remained stable across the study period. 

Hirth and colleagues conducted the retrospective secondary data analysis of administrative claims data to examine the frequency of both Pap and HPV DNA tests among 178,898 12- to 20-year-old females with a paid claim for a well-woman visits  in 2008, 2009 or 2010 -- both before and after the ACOG recommendations.

Pap testing in 2010 correlated with a diagnosis of cervical cell abnormalities in 2009, the researchers found. A stronger association was noted between having a previous Pap test with having a test in 2010.

"These data show that some physicians are adjusting their practices among young women according to ACOG guidelines, but Papanicolaou and HPV testing among insured women younger than 21 years of age still remains unnecessarily high," the researchers wrote.

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