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Pap smears could be a thing of the past—at least for some patients. An update to the official recommendations for cervical cancer screening now includes the option to get a different test, one that looks for a virus rather than for abnormal cells.
The Pap smear involves taking a sample of cells from a person’s cervix, then sending those cells to a lab so an expert can look at them and determine whether any are abnormal. Abnormal cells can indicate potential cervical cancer, but it’s also kind of a catch-all term for any cells that don’t look standard. Healthy cells have a certain shape and look to them, while cells infected with viruses or that are beginning to turn into cancer look different. Sometimes previously thin, flat cells become fatter, or square cells become rounded. Not all physical changes to cells indicate cancer, so sometimes an abnormal Pap smear will turn out to be innocuous. Generally you need to get another round of testing done to determine whether the abnormality is worrisome.
That method has been our primary method of detecting cervical cancer since it was introduced 75 years ago, but more recent evidence suggests we could instead screen for the virus that causes 90 percent of all cervical cancers: human papillomavirus, or HPV.
The USPSTF is responsible for making recommendations like this, about who should get screened for which diseases, how, and how often. They compile all the relevant research, analyze it, and figure out what will do the most help overall. They try to ensure that testing recommendations are conservative enough to catch most cases of a disease, while minimizing the risk of false positives or unnecessary treatments for extremely early-stage conditions—which becomes more likely the more often people get screened.
In this case, they decided that while Pap smears are still safe and effective, there are other options that some people may prefer, and those options are just as good. But it’s a little more complicated than that.Do I still have to get Pap smears?
Maybe, maybe not! If you’re 21 to 29 years old, the answer is yes. “The reason we recommend Pap smears is that in younger women HPV infections often clear on their own,” explains Owens. “You’d end up finding a lot of infections that would go away on their own anyway.”
Anyone over 65 who doesn’t have a prior cervical cancer diagnosis and isn’t otherwise at high risk (talk to your doctor about whether you might fit that latter category) doesn’t need to get any kind of cervical cancer test. For these people, the USPSTF determined that the benefits don’t outweigh the risks. The potential for a false positive isn’t worth any cancers you might catch by screening that population.Can I get cervical cancer if I don’t have HPV?
Yes, unfortunately. More than 90 percent of all cervical cancer is caused by HPV. The virus enters cells and forces them to make proteins that ensure the virus’ survival. Unfortunately these proteins interfere with a cell’s ability to monitor its own growth, and if the immune system doesn’t eliminate them they can multiply rapidly, accumulating other mutations along the way, and eventually turning into cancer.
But that leaves around 10 percent of cases that arise by some other mechanism. Cervical cancer can run in some families, for instance, and many other risk factors increase your chances. Smoking, HIV infection, having a weakened immune system (either from chronic disease or immunosuppressive medication), chlamydia infection, eating a diet low in fruits and veggies, and being overweight all seem to increase your risk for cervical cancer. So does having a full-term pregnancy before age 17, as well as having multiple full-term pregnancies. It’s not entirely clear yet why those last two influence risk, but it likely has to do with the hormonal changes that a person’s body undergoes during pregnancy.
Even if you get cervical cancer not related to HPV, though, it’s still enormously helpful to get regular screenings. “The cervical cancer cases that do occur are primarily women who have not been screened,” Owens explains. There are many cancers for which catching the tumor early doesn’t actually help patients live longer (prostate cancer is among them, to some degree), but cervical cancer is one of the ones that truly can be prevented. Screening helps doctors catch cervical cancer early on, sometimes before it even becomes a fully-fledged cancer, and spotting it at this stage prevents deaths.Will I definitely get cervical cancer if I get HPV?
Nope! HPV is a blanket term for a family of more than 100 varieties of virus, most of which don’t cause cancer. Some strains cause genital warts or regular warts or even plantar warts. Some cause other kinds of cancer, like those of the penis, vulva, vagina, or anus. About 79 million American currently have HPV and 14 million of us become newly infected every year. It’s so common that the Centers for Disease Control notes that “almost every person who is sexually-active will get HPV at some time in their life if they don’t get the HPV vaccine.” Only 12,000 people are diagnosed with cervical cancer each year, which means the vast majority of HPV infections don’t lead to cervical cancer.Should I get the HPV vaccine?
Yes, yes, a thousand times yes. The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices recommends that all people up to age 26 get the vaccine. You can still get it above that age, and some countries like Australia recommend vaccination up through age 45, but the vaccine may be less effective once you become sexually active and have been exposed to HPV already. Plus younger people just get better protection from vaccines. That’s why the recommendation is to begin vaccination at age 11 or 12, before most kids would be sexually active, and for older teens to receive three doses rather than two.
It is also worth noting that the HPV vaccine doesn’t protect against all forms of HPV. The original Gardasil shot protected against four strains which cause 70 percent of all cervical cancers. Starting in December 2014, Gardasil 9 has protected against (you guessed it) nine strains, and covers 93 percent of cervical cancers. It also protects against 90 percent of genital warts, plus a number of other types of cancer.Should I get the new vaccine if I’ve only had the old one?
No, at least according to one of the professors involved in the study of Gardasil 9 in Australia. Since the original vaccine already covered most of the highest-risk HPV strains (and because the vaccine is less effective in older people), there’s no need to go back and get more shots.
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Ming-Chi Kuo reported today that Apple plans to release an iPhone that is completely wireless in 2023. That is, an iPhone without Lightning or USB-C connectivity of any sort. I see several major hurdles with this strategy right now, but those could be solved by 2023.
According to Kuo, Apple will release an iPhone in 2023 without Lightning connectivity. While many had assumed Apple would one day switch from Lightning to USB-C, Kuo seems to think that won’t be the case. Instead of going through another change in connectivity, Apple’s strategy will seemingly be to ditch outwardly facing ports altogether.
According to Kuo, Apple’s goal with the 2023 iPhone is to “provide the completely wireless experience.” The change would first come to the “highest-end model,” then spread downmarket to the rest of the iPhone lineup.The hurdles
2024 seems optimistic for an iPhone without Lightning or USB-C. In my mind, there are a few major hurdles: fast charging, CarPlay, on-the-go charging, and diagnostics.
Wireless charging is incredibly convenient around the house and even in the car, but that’s not always the case. When out and about, using a portable battery is one of the easiest ways to recharge your iPhone. With a wireless charger, this isn’t really possible.
You also still can’t easily use your phone while charging it wirelessly. For example, if you’re sitting at an airport charging your iPhone, chances are you’re going to want to be using it while it charges. Again, this isn’t yet possible with wireless charging.
Then, there’s fast charging. The iPhone 11 can charge at up to 18W when using a USB-C to Lightning cable. Most wireless chargers only charge at 7.5W or 10W. Wireless charging is great for overnight power, but when you need a quick boost, wired charging is still the way to go.
Apple touts that using an 18W charger with your iPhone 11 can get you a 50% charger in just 30 minutes. That type of speed just isn’t yet possible with wireless charging.
There’s also the issue of support and diagnostics. If something goes wrong with your iPhone today, you can plug it into your Mac and easily restore it to factory settings. Without a Lightning port or USB-C port, there would seemingly be no easy way to do this without going to an Apple Store.
Lastly, CarPlay. While some newer cars and head units support wireless CarPlay, the vast majority don’t. And it’s highly unlikely that the majority of iPhone users will buy a car with wireless CarPlay by 2023.
Of course, technology can progress a lot between now and 2023. It’s entirely possible that wireless charging will be just as fast, if not faster, than wired charging by then. iPhone battery life could also continue to improve. The less we have to worry about charging, the more feasible it is to ditch the Lightning port. Apple made dramatic improvements to iPhone battery in 2023, and there’s no reason to think that won’t continue.
It’s clear we’re closer now than ever to an iPhone without Lightning or USB-C, and while we’re not there yet, I can absolutely see it happening by 2023. Kuo’s explanation that Apple will first make the change on the highest-end iPhone is logical. The people buying that iPhone are the people most receptive to that sort of change.
With that being said, I’m struggling to find a solution to the CarPlay problem. While wireless CarPlay is growing, it’s growing at an incredibly slow rate. Apple will need to really push on automakers to implement wireless CarPlay if it intends on ditching Lightning in less than two years.
Ultimately, I’m not ready for an iPhone without any ports right now, but I definitely could be by 2023 with improvements to fast wireless charging and iPhone battery life. It also only seems fitting that Jony Ive’s dream of a “slab of glass” iPhone is achieved after he departs Apple.
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TPM Windows devices aren’t that safe, according to researchers
Even though Microsoft preached the enhanced safety we were going to receive via TPM chips, an attack is not even remotely impossible.
If one of our windows 11 devices were to fall into the wrong hands, the device itself and the network it’s connected to would be compromised.
Experts proved that, with the right set of skills, even the TPM 2.0 security chips can become easy prey for malicious entities looking to extract our data.
Microsoft might want to take a closer look at these security features and maybe even revise its strategy, while there is still time do so.
Needless to say, ever since the Redmond tech company first announced Windows 11 as the future OS, there has been endless talk about some of the hardware requirements that devices need to fulfill.
Many didn’t agree with the imposed TPM 2.0 restrictions and this subject has sparked reactions of all kinds from Windows users.
Microsoft held its ground and kept reassuring people that this TPM requirement is for their own safety, because of the enhanced level of protection it was going to offer.
However, some experts recently found that even with these security chips in place, we still can’t be entirely safe from malicious entities, on the off chance that someone gets their hands on our Windows 11 device.We’re not as safe as Microsoft wants you to think
The tech giant showed an iron will when it came to not cracking under public pressure, especially after the backlash that the TPM 2.0 requirement brought with it from the community.
Trusted Platform Module (TPM) technology is designed to provide hardware-based, security-related functions. A TPM chip is a secure crypto-processor that is designed to carry out cryptographic operations. The chip includes multiple physical security mechanisms to make it tamper-resistant, and malicious software is unable to tamper with the security functions of the TPM.
Experts from Dolos Group found out that, in fact, if one of us were to lose his laptop or have it stolen, TPM could do little to prevent hackers from wreaking havoc.
At the time of this writing, BitLocker does not utilize any encrypted communication features of the TPM 2.0 standard, which means any data coming out of the TPM is coming out in plaintext, including the decryption key for Windows. If we can grab that key, we should be able to decrypt the drive, get access to the VPN client config, and maybe get access to the internal network.
By using this exploit together with other ingenious schemes, researchers were able to take a stolen corporate laptop (as a scenario) and effectively gain access to its associated corporate network, leaving data exposed and vulnerable.
As they further described, after cracking open said laptop, a pre-equipped attacker would use a SOIC-8 clip instead of individual probes, in order to compromise the TPM security chip.
The clip would make it extremely simple to connect to the chip and shave a couple of minutes off a real-world attack.
The entire process is explained in full detail and it is an interesting read if you have a vast technical background and are into this kind of knowledge.
This is disconcerting news, considering that Microsoft made such a big deal about us upgrading to devices that already have such security features integrated.
With that being said, the Redmond-based tech company could do a better job at offering a more secure future for BitLocker, one where such hacking methods are no longer possible.
You might also like to know that you can install Microsoft’s upcoming operating system even without the imposed TPM requirement.
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Digital Money Rise and Cryptocurrency Trading
In case you’re eager to closely cooperate with the top trading brokers in 2023, you should be aware of the mechanisms the crypto industry functions. Having become a trading professional you can be more confident in this field and open a pro account. With the Exness company, you can trade a vast variety of instruments including cryptos. One of the most important factors in trading is spread. Knowing First fiat (notes, coins) gradually adopted a scriptural form which is largely in the majority today. This evolution has accelerated under the effect of technological progress, smart card, the internet, smartphone, etc. After half a century of regulatory strengthening and centralization of the powers of monetary authorities, the desire to reclaim control of the currency has led to the emergence of crypto-currencies. The purpose of this article is to demonstrate, based on historical analysis, that the evolution of money continues and that the next step will be that of crypto-currencies. First fiat, then scriptural, it will become cryptographic.Cryptos: Pros and Cons. Possible
First of all, crypto-currencies eliminate intermediaries during transactions. The processing time for a money transfer no longer depends on the value date mechanism imposed by the banks. Second, blockchain provides an effective defense against fraud, as ledger entries cannot be changed once processed. It comes in the form of a database in which you can find the history of exchanges that have been made since it was opened. Moreover, this database is shared by the members of the blockchain without any intermediary. This decentralization makes transactions inviolable. Thanks to this, each member of the network can check the validity of the chain. However, the system remains vulnerable to certain cases of fraud and hacking such as the 51% attack or the social engineering techniques used by hackers. In the international financial system, economic aberrations persist where a currency loses its value by leaving its national borders. The Nigerian naira is a perfect example: its value drops by 30% as soon as it leaves Nigeria. Digital currencies, for the most part, are not issued by a nation or state and therefore are not subject to the same geographic fluctuations or political influences.Crypto Payment Mechanism
However, computerization has greatly favored the development of the scriptural form by causing its dematerialization. Databases have in fact replaced books of accounts, thus reducing the processing of checks and cash deemed cumbersome and costly by banks. The methods of payment become simple modes of circulation of information that correspond to transfers of purchasing power with better traceability. The technological revolution has brought a gain of security in the means of payment by limiting the risks of counterfeiting and thus facilitating the mission of user protection reinforced by the legislator.Is There A Need For Fiat Alternatives Yet?
If nothing is simple or consensual with money, let us at least conclude this: it seems just as primordial and powerful as it is unthought and misunderstood by citizens. Social convention, simple belief or collective psychological construction, money nevertheless takes on the appearance of inevitability in the eyes of the greatest number. A received idea that offers a striking contrast with the plethora of alternatives, even models of different societies that are open to supporters of monetary reforms. The control of the currency is a condition of real change. Getting the subject out of citizen indifference would now be the first step.Is Cryptocurrency Similar To Fiat Money And How Is It Different?
Both currencies have no intrinsic value. Their value is the result of user trust; placed in the State and Central Banks for fiat currency, placed in the blockchain system, and validation consensus for cryptocurrency. Fiat currency is centralized — issued and controlled by third parties, while cryptocurrency is decentralized — transactions are peer-to-peer. Cryptocurrencies exist in limited quantities, while fiat currencies can be issued at will. Bitcoin, for example, is limited to 21 million units. This fundamental difference explains the deflationary aspect of cryptocurrencies and the inflationary aspect of fiat currencies. Fiat currency is considered less secure than cryptocurrency. It is indeed sensitive to virtual attacks aimed at collecting banking data. In addition, fiat currency is always vulnerable to theft and robbery. Conversely, the cryptocurrency system is supposed to be perfectly inviolable. The speed of transactions is significantly different between the two currencies: a fiat currency transaction will take 2 to 3 days to be validated between two banks, while a Bitcoin transaction will only take 10 minutes. Cryptocurrency and fiat currency, therefore, diverge in many aspects, the former having been created by Satoshi Nakamoto in response to the flaws inherent in the latter. Degree of centralization, level of security, inflationary or deflationary aspect.Conclusion
Cryptocurrency is expected to emerge as the new form of transaction usage and be widely adopted. Financial institutions and governments are concerned about this proliferation. Some states, such as Sweden, are already developing their own alternative currencies. Among the priority investment areas (DIA) presented in the finance innovation cluster’s white paper published in February 2023, DIA talks about the creation of a eurozone-specific crypto-euro for wholesale payment and detail. Evolution is part of the historical perspective and seems irreversible. This means that the cryptocurrencies of the future will certainly exist on the terms of central banks, financial institutions, and government agencies.
WhatsApp’s new feature will allow people to reroute their connection through proxy servers stationed around the world and accessible through the app.
But how does the new feature work, and can you really trust Meta-owned WhatsApp’s proxy server feature?
The new feature is designed for people living under oppressive regimes that regularly restrict access to social media sites in order to quell civil unrest, protests, and other forms of anti-government mobilization.
Just recently, WhatsApp announced a new feature: you’ll now be able to connect to the social media platform via a proxy server set up by a third-party volunteer or organization.
The aim is to help people communicate in countries where WhatsApp – and social media in general – is being blocked, banned, or restricted. The proxy servers will provide a way around these sorts of restrictions that people can use safely and without fear of reprisal.
“There are many people who continue to be denied the ability to reach their loved ones because of internet shutdowns,” WhatsApp explained in a recent statement. “Choosing a proxy enables you to connect to WhatsApp through servers set up by volunteers and organizations around the world dedicated to helping people communicate freely”.
WhatsApp says anyone can set up a proxy using a server with ports 80, 443, or 5222 available, as well as a domain name pointing to the server’s IP address. More information – as well as source code – is available on GitHub.
The feature has already been rolled out and can be found within the “Storage and Data” section of WhatsApp’s Settings menu, as long as you have the latest version of WhatsApp downloaded.Can You Trust WhatsApp?
All in all, the new feature will likely be a great help to a lot of people. But, if your government is surveilling your internet activity and an attempt to access WhatsApp could come back to bite you, then it’s only natural to seek assurances regarding the reliability and security of a feature like this.
The question isn’t necessarily about whether users can trust WhatsApp however, but rather, whether you can trust the owner of the third-party proxy server you’re connecting to.
WhatsApp will not be setting these servers up, nor will it maintain or hold any influence over them. In theory, these servers could be set up by absolutely anyone, which is a de facto security risk.
If you’re in a country like Iran and you’re likely to use this feature, just bear in mind that the owner of the server you’re connecting to – wherever they’re based in the world – will be able to see your IP address.
Proxy servers will not encrypt your connection like a VPN does, so ensure the one you’re connecting to via WhatsApp is legitimate and genuine before you attempt to connect and use it.
Crucially, however, as WhatsApp is an end-to-end encrypted messaging service, the server owner won’t be able to access any conversations you have stored within the app while you’re connected to their server.Are There Other Options for WhatsApp Security?
Theoretically, if you could find a safe way to get your hands on a VPN with support for split tunneling, you could funnel all of your WhatsApp activity through one of its encrypted servers, which wouldn’t reveal your IP address, and use the regular internet for the rest of your data.
However, therein lies the problem. Attempting to download a VPN in a country like Iran – ruled by a government that surveils its citizens’ internet activity in the way this WhatsApp change is supposed to combat – comes with its own risks and dangers.
The safest option is to use the proxy server feature, but as we’ve mentioned, be vigilant when it comes to picking your proxy server. This will be safer than attempting to access technology like VPNs in a place like Iran.
However, in countries where VPNs are widely used and the subsequent legal risks associated with using them are minimal or non-existent – then we’d recommend using a VPN in tandem with the proxy if possible, simply just to boost your privacy and hide your IP address from whoever is providing your connection.
Soil is one of the most crucial, if not underrated, elements of daily life—it’s essential for growing the food and resources we rely on, combats drought, protects against flooding, and can sequester carbon dioxide for years to come. But, the dirt beneath our feet is constantly under threat due to rising temperatures and biodiversity loss thanks to climate change. And despite how simple we may think soil is, it’s pretty hard to know what’s really going on deep in the ground from the surface.
Scientists in Italy, however, think they may have a robotic solution—a seed-inspired robot. Scientists at the Bioinspired Soft Robotics (BSR) Lab, a part of the Istituto Italiano di Tecnologia (IIT-Italian Institute of Technology) in Genoa, have developed the first 4D printed seed-inspired soft robot, which they claim can help act as sensors for monitoring pollutants, CO2 levels, temperature and humidity in soil. They published their findings earlier this year in Advanced Science. The research is part of the EU-funded I-Seed project aimed at making robots that can detect environmental changes in air and soil.
What they’ve got here is an artificial seed inspired by the structure of a South African geranium, or the Pelargonium appendiculatum. The seeds of the tuberous, hairy-leafed plant have the ability to change shape in response to how humid their environment is. When the time comes for the seeds to leave the plant, they detach and can move independently to “penetrate” soil fractures, according to the study. This almost looks like crawling and burning action, which is due its helical shape changing according to changes in the environment. In a way. The curly seeds can find a home for themselves simply by expanding and shrinking due to changes in water content of the air.
[Related: This heat-seeking robot looks and moves like a vine.]
The team at IIT-BSR mimicked these seeds by combining 3D printing and electrospinning, using materials that also absorb and expand when exposed to humidity. Using fused deposition modeling, the authors printed a substrate layer of polycaprolactone, a biodegradable thermoplastic polyester activated using oxygen plasma to increase water-attracting abilities. Next, they added electrospun hygroscopic fibers made of a polyethylene oxide shell and a cellulose nanocrystal core.
When tested in a soil sample, the robot was able to shimmy about, adapt its shape to cracks, and burrow into holes in the ground much like the natural seed. Not to mention, it was capable of lifting about 100 times its own weight. First author Luca Cecchini, a PhD student at IIT, said in a statement that the biodegradable and energy-autonomous robots could be used as “wireless, battery-free tools for surface soil exploration and monitoring.”
The first I-Seed created at IIT is inspired by the seed structure of a South African geranium, the Pelargonium appendiculatum. Credit: IIT-Istituto Italiano di Tecnologia
“With this latest research,” Barbara Mazzolai, associate director for robotics of the IIT and coordinator of the I-Seed Project, said in the statement, “we have further proved that it is possible to create innovative solutions that not only have the objective of monitoring the well-being of our planet, but that do so without altering it.”
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