The availability of a vaccine to protect against human papillomavirus (HPV) is a great development and will further reduce Australia’s cervical cancer rates, however it is not a substitute for the cervical cancer screening.
Even for women who have been vaccinated, cervical screening from age 25 is important. This is because although HPV vaccine helps protect against some strains of HPV that cause the majority of cervical cancer cases the vaccine does not protect against all types of cancer-causing HPV. There is also the chance that you may have been exposed to HPV through sexual activity before you had the vaccine. The HPV vaccine doesn’t treat HPV infections you already have.
A new cervical screening program was introduced in Australia from December 2017. The new screening test, which replaces the old Pap test, looks for HPV and alongside our vaccination program is expected to reduce cervical cancer rates and deaths.
Cancer Council Australia recommends all women aged 25 – 74 continue to have a cervical screening test every five years and visit their doctor as soon as possible if they have any symptoms such as abnormal vaginal bleeding or pain, regardless of whether or not they are vaccinated.