Radical Changes to Pap Testing in Australia

As of December 1, 2017, Australia introduced some big changes to its cervical cancer screening program.   The outdated pap test has been replaced with a new HPV test, and intervals between testing have extended from once every two years to testing once every five years.  There is also a new recommended age to begin testing.  Australian women were previously encouraged to begin screening at age 18, but women are now advised to begin screening at age 25.

The reason for the changes is due to the improved accuracy of the HPV test. Experts claim that HPV testing is more accurate than the pap test, and therefore does not need to be done as often (source).


  1. http://bmjopen.bmj.com/content/8/6/e021174

    I don’t know if any of you have seen this new article which has come out. It makes for very sad reading that women are so blind, brainless and besotted with screening, but it’s true. The sample group were all committed screeners, so that’s got to skew the results in a big way, but it’s all very clear how, even when the overdiagnosis revelation shocks them, they still want to be invited for screening.
    Whilst it calls for a culture change, (no doubt, they’ll want another ton of research cash to find out the best way to do that), there is no mention that the pink ribbon brainwashing campaigns are still endemic and in full swing. No mention that just stopping the promotion of mammography, would go a long way in letting attendance tail off naturally. I’ve noticed that those in the medical profession seem blindly unaware of the bullying, harrassmant and downright threats which are commonplace in doctors surgeries to get women to screen.

    • Excellent!They haven’t put my last one up and I sent it twice! Interesting how the blokes feel they are missing out because they don’t have their own screening!

    • Great job, both of you! Men are incredibly short sighted and naive if they think women’s healthcare needs are taking precedence over theirs. In reality it’s just the opposite – men are being protected from the harms of unreliable testing while women are not! Men receive informed consent and women don’t!

    • You’ve both got loads of thumbs up. Where’s the resistance all gone? No-one replying. Perhaps they’ve got the message and been educated by your comments? Oh, hang on a minute, it’s the Daily Mail, so I expect they’re looking up cervical screening in Mein Kampf.

      • Ada maybe times are changing. I remember a few years back there would be literally 100’s of comments on a piece about smears and any non screener or those critical of it would be shot down in flames. They would also get lots of red arrows. There’s not even many comments this time. Of course the HPV issue isn’t really new. A while ago the same daily fail ran a piece..screen women for HPV at the same time as their smear test. .as Elizabeth would say just assuming that all women DO have smears….

    • Just went and gave all your comments a thumbs up 🙂 I’m also really surprised at the absence of the militant screening brigade.

      I am also active on Twitter and it seems all the pro-screeners sending “just go, it will save your life” messages have gone fairly quiet too. Certainly quieter than they have been.

  2. There are a few people out there with critical thinking skills, though unfortunately they’re woefully few and far between.

  3. Hi ladies I just read piece in telegraph about STI infection. It mentions globally 291 million women “harbour the HPV virus. No mention of infection in men…

      • Oh, I’m SURE that no one has EVER gotten HPV (or anything else!) from a speculum that had been rinsed between patients, and soaked in a disinfectant product that is proven to NOT kill HPV. Nor from the brush. Nor from the table itself. Nor from the community glove box.

  4. https://blogs.kcl.ac.uk/cancerprevention/2018/07/06/why-arent-we-seeing-the-effect-of-vaccination-against-hpv-16-18-on-cervical-cancer-registration-in-england/#comment-2

    I have recently posted on this site, but so far nothing has come up. Interesting to see that 1808 cases of cervical cancer were diagnosed in the UK in 2008, and 339 more in 2009 when Ms Goody died. Can’t quite see where the 3000 cases diagnosed every year come from that the media is always quoting. In another of their posts I read that the start age from cervical screening in UK has actually come down to 24 and a half, a few years ago. Don’t remember hearing about that happening…?

    • Ada, I think they’re referring to the fig-leaf policy of sending out invites to women at 24 and a half. Ya know, the one they brought in to placate the baying mobs calling for the screening age to be lowered. After all, 25 is such an arbitrary age anyway, what does it matter? (adds another eyeroll).
      Seems that the definition and thresholds of diseases is constantly being changed, so frankly I wouldn’t trust any of the figures spewed out.

      • The baying mobs screaming about lowering screening ages…. The evidence that lower screening ages is just pointless is never discussed in the media. The idea that funding is cut for “women’s health issues, is the political cause. Instead why are women not fighting for real women’s issues such as equal pay (or better, a living wage), affordable housing and affordable daycare? It seems that women’s cancer screening funding is the smoke screen of all women’s political issues. I will keep point that out until people understand.

    • Caroline, I have just posted some comments, one is up so far. Thanks for the information and the link. I have to say, seeing an article like this discussing HARMS of treatment following cervical screening is a bit of a first!

      • It definitely is! There are various doctors on Twitter getting their panties in a bunch about the fact it’s discouraging women from attending smears, it’s therefore irresponsible etc.

        I’ve added a couple of comments, will try and do some more today.

    • The Kool-Aid is strong there! No actual arguments or refutations, not a one, merely and endless changed mantra of “pap smear save lives, how dare yousuggest they or the follow up are anything less than perfect!”

      These people are in a cult. A Heaven’s Gate level cult.

    • Good woman! I saw one of your’s come up. Can you believe that poor lady on there, Love to be a Nanny who has been to all her Screening, had two cryo type treatments and two LLETZ procedures and is still dying of cervical cancer. She is still telling everyone quite firmly to have their smear tests and treatments!!! Surely you would be a bit pissed off and questioning the programme?

  5. UK ladies alert on they work for you..Apparently the screening committee is going to look at self testing for HPV in autumn. ..Ada know any more? Or anyone else? I won’t say it’s about time with women leaving in droves…

    • Kat, I’ll have a look into this and dig out anything I can find. I know nothing about it, but someone did tell me ages ago, self-testing would never be a part of the UK programme, but maybe they’ve caved in under the pressure. The research I’ve seen has said that no interventions to increase uptake actually work, except for self -testing and I know Jo’s Tosh are pushing for it. If it ever comes about, prepare to see them dance in pink glory for having striven so hard for it and saved all us ignorant defaulters our lives!

      Other good news is that the UK screening information leaflets were updated last May to include a link on how to opt out of screening. Yes! It may be on the very back page but the link is there on the online leaflets and on new paper ones, however they’ve still got a lot of the old ones which don’t have it on to use up. I wonder when these will run out? I think we’ll soon find out when the besotted pro-screeners start squawking about it in Huff Post and The Fail. Remember how shocked they were when they changed the leaflets to say women had a choice and Paula Sheriff stood up in Parliament to get this information removed in case women started to question screening?

      • Unbelievable and sad how women can be other women’s worst enemies. It truly weakens us all and that’s part of how we got here in the first place with these horrid invasive tests and lack of informed consent

    • https://i.stuff.co.nz/national/health/105460577/auckland-researchers-trial-a-selfscreening-smear-test-to-overcome-cultural-taboos

      This is where we are at in NZ. They have delayed raising the screening age to 25 until 2019 and the new HPV Screening Programme won’t be introduced until 2021, it was supposed to happen at the end of 2018. Something is clearly wrong. I launched an OIA request but they redacted and withheld any relevant information. I am going to take this up with the Ombudsman.

      • Is it not possible for NZ ladies to get hold of selt-test kits from overseas? It makes my blood boil that they keep saying it is embarrassment and cultural taboos which stop women from getting smeared. They use this line over and over again in the UK. The other group they target is the disabled. The fact that many disabled people may have made a consious decision not to have the test just passes them by.

      • The article is written as if they’ve just fathomed out women might have cultural taboos ( if they do. As we all know they might just not want it….Oh such a crime!!)

      • Robert Music stated “Our latest research found 86% of Scottish women would prefer to self-sample at home and I hope to see this offered as part of the programme soon.”
        So what the hell are they waiting for?
        No…instead they continue to target, encourage, spend another £5 million, more national marketing campaigns, taking cervical cancer to high streets and retail parks across Scotland!!! What a huge waste of money, there are sick patients denied medication as it is too expensive, lives are being shortened…even for children for goodness sake!
        I am happy to see the fall in younger women, they are accessing the info like we do & making their own decisions. But older women still seem to be screening…you’d think they would be wiser than this instead of blindly trusting the programme, info & staff.

      • Thank you for this Caroline.
        From the article

        “Cervical screening saves lives. That’s why we are continuing to carry out a range of work to encourage women to attend their screening appointments.

        “This includes a series of national marketing campaigns – the most recent of which particularly targeted younger women, where we know uptake is lower.

        “Up to £5 million of funding from the Cancer Strategy is being invested in the cancer screening programmes, including cervical screening, to encourage participation.”

        Public Health England are telling us that screening is a choice and we can opt out etc. However, if we do decline we are ” targeted” and encouraged to participate. It does my head in and the total waste of resources is disgusting.
        It will be us women who bring about change. It has to come from women themselves because no health system or government can admit that this should never have been instigated in the first place. That’s the only thing that keeps me pushing on. I will keep commenting on all the articles and hope that some will start to question.

    • The misallocation of health care resources that ChasUK describes in the post below is similar to what we have in the US – the healthy insured population is constantly targeted for screening tests, with all the accompanying false positives, over diagnosis etc. that use up even more resources, while those who are truly sick and in need of care, but may not be insured or are underinsured, go without. It’s truly a sad state of affairs.

      • Judy this is so true. My sister is a health professional in San Francisco working in the community. The stories she tells are unbelievable. Her patients are in hostels etc. The divide between the haves and have-nots is very wide.

  6. Me too up-voted. So annoying they keep saying it’s the embarrassment and the societal taboo, when the elephant in the room is that shit stinks horribly and who wants to poop into an ice cream container and fiddle around with the sticks they give you to scrape it? You can understand people putting it off. Who on earth is embarrassed anyway to be in a room on their own with a lock on the door?

    • As you guys know, I have removed myself from the bowel screening merry go round. I received a letter confirming my choice. It took less than a week to sort out. No drama. You may be surprised (!) to learn that it took months of phone calls and letters to remove myself from the cervical and breast screening databases. 🙄

      • Chas I remember last year the terrible Scottish scare campaign stop fannying around and get tested with the flower that morphed into a vagina. It was meant to empower them to get tested..o viously worked well…..

      • How did you go about finally getting removed from the cervical screening databases – any tips on what to write Mint? My letters have failed miserably. I was ‘under the radar’ for about 10 years as I had been struck off my GP’s list out of the blue, presumably because I never went. I registered with a new one in Feb 2017 and received my first cervical screening summons in March 2017. I immediately wrote back, copy to GP, to opt out but received a further invite in August 2017. I wrote a strongly worded letter to the GP saying that I was surprised to receive a further invite as I had opted out and explaining, as quoted in PHE guidance, any further sharing of my details with screening authority would be a breach under Data Protection Act. I received my next invite in December and two more this year – April 2018 and now just yesterday – so 5 in total! I don’t want to be interrogated the next time I need to visit the surgery, so would rather get things sorted now. Thanks

      • Thanks Ada. Unfortunately, my letters are being ignored and I’m still receiving the invites. However, I’ve followed the link you mentioned and have printed off an opt-out template which I’ve filled in and will send back. Here’s hoping . . .

      • It is really terrible they are ignoring your letters as they have a legal obligation to follow your instructions. I’ve also read that they have a number of other little tricks up their sleeve:
        They may call you in and say you have to have a 1-2-1 “chat” with the GP about your decision before they can opt you out. I don’t think you are under any obligation to do this. All patients have a legal right to decline treatment without giving a reason, but you may want to go in and tell them straight that you are making an informed choice.
        I’ve also heard that some GP surgeries opt you out, but send you a “reminder of your opt out status” every 3 years in the hope that you may change your mind. It gives them an excuse to hassle you every 3 years as if you were still in the programme.
        Do let us know how you get on.

      • Hi Julie

        As Ada has already said, I wrote to my GP and copied in the Health Trust (as it was called then) and I continued to write and make phone calls until I received an opt-out form. I filled it in and the invitations stopped.

        I still had to be very firm with the GP, nurses and receptionists that I did not want screening no matter how many times I was asked. One of the nurses tried to talk me into a smear when I visited an asthma clinic with my son. She told me to “pop off my trousers and hop unto the couch” with my 10 year old son still in the room! She was unrepentant when I pointed out to her how unprofessional she was being. She tried to emotionally blackmail me by saying I should have one so that I could bring up my children. Shocking behaviour. I complained about her. I didn’t see her again at the surgery.

        Good luck.

      • Thanks Mint. I’m really shocked at the behaviour of the nurse, it’s just not acceptable that we have to put up with this when we visit healthcare providers.

  7. They’d probably given you up by then as a hopeless case lol. They finally seem to have given up with me on breast and cervical. Next year I’ll b”invited” to flexi sig at 55 lol b opting out of that then plus the s… kits. ..

    • Hi Kat,
      I see Music is trying to get self-testing onto the programme, or at least, he claims he is. I’ve not been able to find any news on how the UK programme will change at all. Only that all UK nations will switch by end of 2019 to HPV testing, but no news at all that they will reduce the screening interval beyond 3 yearly. Wales will fully switch to HPV testing by end of this month, but they will continue to screen every 3 years from age 25 as usual. I’ve read somewhere that this will increase referrals in this age bracket by 80% until the vaccinated cohort moves through. For ladies in the UK in their early 20s right now, they are at risk of serious over referrals until the programme is changed. Seen loads of women posting that they are waiting over 12 weeks for results to come through, while they shut down the cytology labs.

      • Ada maybe Music is realising jos tosh might soon be redundant if women continue leaving in droves. Self testing might keep them afloat. Not that he or anyone else is concerned with what women want of course. ..

      • Yes I agree. If self-testing ever comes about he’ll be claiming it was all down to him. Ever since Jo’s came into existence the uptake rate has been going down and down. They are always claiming their campaigning works and produces miraculous results. They run these little stands and claim they are getting women to test, but when the results come out they are always less than the year before.
        But anyway, we don’t want them to succeed anyway!

  8. Julie they continued to hassle me for a while even after I’d had confirmation from the screening authority of my opted out status. I avoided the doctor for 2 years as a result. Now I’m going again and it’s not been mentioned since though at 54 I’d be on 5 year” invites”. I opted out of mammography too…that’s never been mentioned. Next year I’ll be opting out of bowel screening as I’ll be “invited “for bowel scope screening. I hope finally they listen to you. Be warned the GP will probably not inform the screening authority you’ve opted out….they didn’t with me and I got “invites”from screening authority til I told them to do one lol…..

    • Thanks Kat. I’ll bear this in mind. I’ve sent my little reply slip off to the screening authority (thanks to Ada’s link) so will see what happens…

  9. Now that we are approaching the final months of 2018, I wondered how the Australian programme has been coming on? Is there a big demand for the self-testing option? How are people getting used to the idea that it’s dropped to every 5 years? I’m sure the screening Nazis in the UK are monitoring the situation before changing the UK programme, but I think we are years behind…

      • Caroline non of mine are appearing either. There were 12 comments on the article when I commented, maybe they are just not adding anymore. It does seem to be a bit odd.

    • Ugh. It just goes to show how stupid these pro-screening fanatics are. Years ago, it was all too easy to manipulate women who resisted testing into believing they were weird, that there was something wrong with them for feeling the way they did. You all know the lines… ‘other women don’t complain’, ‘all women have this test’ etc. etc…
      But now, by bringing attention to the fact that there’s actually a very large number of women saying no to the speculum, and that number is increasing year on year, the non-screeners out there are more likely to take comfort in that fact rather than rush to hop up on the couch!

      • Hi Kate

        There is an absolute waft of screening articles on the net claiming there is a twenty year low of women having smear tests.

        They are claiming the usual suspects – embaressment, time constraints, women worried about pain etc etc. They’ve even touted that old chestnut about Jade Goody effect diminishing.

        Nowhere do the articles state that it is a women’s choice or that women are deciding the pros and cons of screening and making an informed choice. They are talking once again about opportunistic testing which in my opinion is an abomination to women.

        Of course Robert Music and PHE are crying thier eyes about falling numbers. Boo Hoo.

      • Caroline censor. I tried to comment too it said I was being moderated. Most of the comments up are ” don’t be embarrassed / it’s no big deal…..

      • Hi Linda… You know, if you nag someone relentlessly, one of two things will happen ; They either cave in to your demands to shut you up, or they get really angry and less inclined to so-operate. The pro-screeners don’t seem to realise that with the steady stream of bullcrap they spew out, they’re actually pissing people off! They really are deluded, poor dears.

        As for Robert Music, he’s just a government lackey, and I have nothing but contempt for the man and his money-grubbing ‘charity’.

  10. https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/10/181023085744.htm?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+sciencedaily%2Fhealth_medicine%2Fcervical_cancer+%28Cervical+Cancer+News+–+ScienceDaily%29
    “HPV blood test shows promise for tracking head and neck cancer after treatment”

    So why the testing each and every cervix with a scrape & a poke??
    If HPV IS detectable by a blood test whatever the stage, be it cancer of the throat/neck/cervix then a blood test it should be for all!

    • There was an interesting UK study back in 2014 concluding a urine test for hpv showed solid results, certainly more reliable than Pap testing.

      Thing is they always argue a physician collected sample is better, not sure that’s true with something like the Delphi Screener. Also, with non-invasive options more women would probably test, but they clearly prefer to restrict alternative, better, and more comfortable self testing options to the “hard to reach” groups, the women they can’t capture any other way.
      Interesting, they’d prefer women not to test, rather than freely offer self testing.
      Of course, freeing up self testing would empower women, slash income from consults, overall lab costs, day procedure etc. etc.
      I’ve always felt misogynistic attitudes were behind these programs, no one who cared for and respected women would endorse this sort of medical abuse….and clearly doctors and others enjoy the massive income that flows from these programs, they don’t want anything better that reduces their level of control or income.
      I think that’s why non-invasive tests have never been of interest to doctors and other vested interests, it doesn’t suit them. Shameful they’d rather put a women through multiple speculum exams plus most end up having an unnecessary biopsy and/or treatment, rather than simply move to hpv self testing options.

      • There was a prize awarded to a young woman who had developed a test from spit in a cup, but that all seems to have gone very quiet. Not heard anything about it since.
        I’m disappointed to see that HPV self testing is still being researched as a possibility, when it has been well under way for some time in some countries. I’m convinced that their main fear with self testing is their loss of control over patients. There would be a landslide in favour of it, I’m sure, and if the tests were sent out, they couldn’t be sure the sample submitted is actually that of the recipient. They don’t trust women with the test at all, and if there are a few ignorant dimwits like Ms Goody, then all women must be treated like that to “iron out inequalities” in healthcare.

    • It’s a pity they’re not giving us any news about future changes in the UK screening programme. Seen quite a few articles that look like things are being quietly run down a bit – some GP surgeries only offering smears on 1 day per week, no other time, 9 week waiting lists, or suggesting they try a private clinic. Certainly much less prevalent than it used to be. You couldn’t get out of the place without a smear test years ago, now women are being turned away. I sometimes wonder if all this smear test propaganda in the news is a smokescreen, while the services are reconfigured for a drastically reduced programme, if there is one planned at all? Seen Virgin touting for business on this and another clinic offering same. Also seen a report that chlamydia screening doesn’t work. This is a test they are trying on teens and young women opportunistically when they visit GP. The results are not showing there is any benefit if screened or not. I hope that knocks that one on the head, but I’m sure there’s bound to be a private company willing to take it up.

  11. Ada maybe you hit the nail on the head when you said they’re maybe going to be winding the programme down…attendance has never been lower and women are leaving in droves. Maybe the reason they’re not looking at self testing or spit testing is because they don’t want to pour any more money in their programme. ..

    • This looks like a great bit of news. There has been nothing about how the UK HPV screening programme is going to look for ages. All UK countries were supposed to have switched to the new
      HPV test next April, but now this has been postponed until December 2019, which will probably be in 2020. All being held up by a lack of computer system. Is one needed? Why can’t your GP surgery just send you a card every 3 years, when dentists seem to manage this recall task every year? However, they can’t let us off the hook so easily, can they. I’m unable to access the full text, but it seems to be hinting that the new recall system will allow different pathways for different wòmen. At last they seem to have realised, that not everybody wants this test so frequently, or at all. This will be a huge kick in the face for Jo’s Tosh who keep peddling those endless campaigns about who is not following the 3 years recall, and their shock tactics that those who don’t keep to the 3 yearly demands are dicing with death. If eveeyone has their own personal track, they can no longer keep running these bullying campaigns against women who want to do things differently.

    • My above response was a bit too optimistic and premature.
      It seems to be this below. In other words you may stop at 55 if you have always had negative smears, so in the UK that only lets you off the very last 2 smears, and only if you have had a negative history until then, or you’ll be pestered as usual until you are 65.
      😩 Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose…

  12. But the HPV test will remain as a speculum test collected by the Nurse/GP!
    I noticed that the risk lowered to 0.04%……………it’s only 0.65% risk now! Still not worth it for me!
    “If women attended screening up to age 55 with a negative HPV test and cytology, their estimated risk of developing cervical cancer in later life was 0.04%. And continuing screening to age 70 didn’t add much benefit for these women, according to the researchers.”

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