Cervical Screening - What wāhine need to know
What is cervical screening?
A cervical smear test is a screening test to find abnormal changes in the cells of the cervix.
Why is cervical screening necessary?
Almost all cervical cancer is caused by human papillomavirus (HPV). The virus is spread by sexual activity. Eighty percent of people who have been sexually active will have an HPV infection at some point in their lives. But with regular cervical screening any changes on the cervix can be detected and treated before they become cancers.
Early treatment is highly successful. Since the national screening programme started, the number of women who die of cervical cancer has dropped by nearly two thirds.
Who should be having cervical screening/smear tests?
If you are a woman, transgender or non-binary person between 25 and 69 who has ever been sexually active, then you should have regular smear tests. If you have had a hysterectomy (removal of the uterus) check with your health provider if you still need to be screened.
This includes women who:
- are immunised against HPV
- are single
- only have sex with women
- have a disability
- have been through menopause
- are no longer having sex.
Where can I get a smear test in Taranaki?
It's completely up to you who takes your smear. Whoever you choose, all smear takers are specially trained to make sure the test is comfortable, and meets your rights as a patient. You can go to your regular GP clinic or choose to go to:
- Any doctor or practice nurse
- Family Planning – New Plymouth and Hawera
- Taranaki DHB Sexual Health Clinic
The National Screening Unit can help you find someone to take your smear. Give them a call on freephone 0800 729 729.
Is there a cost?
Charges vary between providers, with some offering free services (conditions may apply).
For more information about cervical screening: www.timetoscreen.nz