Genetic sequencing has uncovered over 100 different strains of HPV. Of those strains, 15 are oncogenic, including HPV-16 and HPV-18. Roughly 11-12% of the global population carries a strain of the virus. Most of the time an infection from HPV does not result in cancer, however when a cancerous strain is contracted, it becomes paramount that a the virus is detected and managed.
In the 1960’s many countries started screening women for cervical cancer and the HPV virus. Since screening women for HPV and cervical cancer became more prevalent, coupled with the practice of administering vaccines, the mortality rate of cervical cancer has dramatically decreased. Despite these efforts, cervical cancer is still one of the most common forms of cancer contracted by women.
In 2017, the American Society of Clinical Oncology estimated that there were about 12,820 new cases of diagnosed invasive cervical cancer. 4,210 women are expected to die from cervical cancer in 2017. Screening women at regular doctor visits via the Pap smear is a great first step in identifying potentially harmful HPV strains, however ELISA is a more comprehensive and accurate testing tool.