HPV is a type of virus that spreads through sexual contact. Approximately 20% of American women have one or more strains of high-risk HPV, which has been implicated in almost all cervical cancer cases. (Two strains that EverlyWell tests for, 16 and 18, cause 70% of all cervical cancer cases.)

Many sexually active people get high-risk HPV infections in their 20s – but the body can usually mount a successful defense and defeat the virus before any cancer develops. However, if high-risk HPV persists in the body for years and years, then there’s a much greater risk that the HPV isn’t going away anytime soon – and might trigger the onset of cervical changes that can lead to cervical cancer. For that reason, HPV testing is especially important and vital for women who are aged 30+.