Your smear test and HPV
If you read no further PLEASE go for your smear test.
In Wales in 2017, 167 women were diagnosed with cervical cancer and 54 women lost their lives to cervical cancer. So attending your smear test is important.
Today I met with Jo’s Cervical Trust who do fantastic work in raising awareness around the smear test and making cervical cancer a thing of the past. Their #smearforasmear campaign is in its sixth year and this year is focussing on the stigma and myths surrounding the smear test and HPV (human papillomavirus).
In Wales the cervical screening programme now tests for HPV first. While this is a more sensitive test, it means that more women will be told they have HPV so the Trust want women feel informed and comfortable when they get their results.
This means knowing what HPV is.
HPV is a very common virus that 80% of the population will have at point in their lives.
There are around 200 types of HPV of which 13 high risk types are linked to cervical cancer.
It is passed on through skin to skin contact of the genital area. The immune system usually clears the virus without the need for treatment.
But there is a lot of stigma around this common virus.
HPV vaccination is estimated to save 400 lives a year.
Cervical screening attendance amongst 25-64 year olds is too low in both Cwm Taf Morgannwg (72.85) and Aneurin Bevan (74.3%) health board areas.
We need to increase the screening rates so we can improve detection and treatment rates.
That is why I support the work of Jo’s cervical cancer trust.
Public Health Wales also provide accessible information about the smear test. You can read more here