Self-collect option set to make cervical screens easier

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Family Planning Victoria (FPV) hopes the new Federal Government initiative – self-collected cervical screens – will make cervical screening easier and more convenient, ultimately saving lives.

As of 1 July 2022, eligible Australians will gain access to a self-collected cervical screening test through their chosen healthcare provider, which can be quickly and painlessly be conducted in complete privacy.

FPV Medical Director Dr Kathleen McNamee says this is a positive step forward for the sexual healthcare industry and for anyone with a cervix.

“This new healthcare technology will encourage and support eligible Australians from all walks of life to access the test – this includes those who may face barriers to traditional screening due to cultural practices, concerns about discomfort or pain, or members of the LGBTQIA+ community,” says Dr McNamee.

“The tests are simple to do and are just as effective as the current test at detecting potentially worrying strains of Human papillomavirus (HPV).”

HPV is the most common viral infection of the reproductive tract.

Most sexually active people will be infected at some point in their lives and some may be repeatedly infected.

Most types of HPV are harmless, occur without causing symptoms and will go away without treatment.

“Unlike the current tests, the self-collect test can be done by a patient in private using a swab without the need to use speculum,” says Dr McNamee.

“We often hear clients say that they feel anxious or embarrassed about the traditional screening process, and that this causes delays in them making an appointment to get it done.

“We hope that this new way of screening will provide those that need to get tested with the confidence to do so.”

A cervical screening test is recommended every five years for those aged 25 to 74 with a cervix.

If a sample shows the presence of a worrying strain of HPV, then a healthcare professional, such as FPV, can conduct a traditional Cervical Screening Test and discuss further management plans.

FPV provides dedicated training to healthcare staff to ensure they provide exceptional support and care for patients who require further investigation or treatment.

“The self-collect testing will be available via the Medical Benefits Scheme, meaning there will be no test charge for those with a Medicare card,” says Dr McNamee.