A recent article published by the ABC’s Olivia Wills discusses self-collected human papilloma virus (HPV) testing. Self-collected cervical swabs are an alternative to a health professional collecting a sample for HPV testing or performing a pap smear.
HPV is the virus that causes about 99 per cent of cervical cancers. The new HPV test looks for the presence of the virus itself, rather than checking for precancerous changes in cells.
It detects potential problems earlier than a pap smear and is predicted to save more lives.
While Australia is on track to eliminate cervical cancer by 2035, it remains the fourth-most common cancer in women worldwide, killing one woman every two minutes.
In 2018 The World Health Organisation (WHO) described cervical cancer as one of the “gravest threats to women’s health” and recognised the need for a co-ordinated global effort to eliminate the disease.
Luckily, you can help: the Pacific Island Cervical Cancer Screening Initiative (PICCSI) currently conducts both practitioner-collected and patient-collected HPV testing in the Pacific. If this proves to be acceptable, effective and safe, we could soon see self-collection HPV testing replace conventional HPV testing and pap smears for women in the Pacific.