Changes to cervical screening
From 1 December 2017 the National Cervical Screening Program will change to improve early detection. The current 2 yearly Pap test for women aged 18 to 69 will change to a 5 yearly HPV test for women aged 25 to 74 called a Cervical Screening Test. This test is more accurate.
You still need a Cervical Screening Test even if you have been vaccinated against HPV.
See your doctor if you have any symptoms such as unusual bleeding, discharge or pain.
When will I be due for my first HPV test?
Women will be due for the first HPV test 2 years after their last Pap test.
Read more about changes to National Cervical Screening Program
The Cervical Screening Test detects the human papillomavirus (HPV) infection, which is the first step in developing cervical cancer. It is not a test for cancer.
It is done in the same way as a Pap smear. A small sample of cells is taken from the woman’s cervix.
Cells can change and become abnormal if a woman is exposed to the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV). This is a very common virus that is spread through direct skin to skin contact (which often occurs during sex). The majority of people carry the virus only.
There are many different strains of HPV (over 100), but only a few of these may go on to cause cancer. The other types usually go undetected or occasionally cause genital warts in some people.
If the results of your cervical screening come back as abnormal, further testing will be done on the sample your doctor collected to look at the cells in the sample. If these are abnormal, or if you have a high risk strain of HPV present, your doctor will refer you to a specialist or a specialist clinic for more detailed examination and testing of your cervix.
Pap smears can be performed by your doctor.
Watch this video to learn more about cervical screening.
Last reviewed: August 2017