From 1st May 2017, high risk Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) will become the Medicare-funded cervical screening test. Conventional Pap smears will not be funded by Medicare (apart from a few special groups) after 1st May 2017.
It will still be necessary to obtain a cervical sample which will be placed in a liquid based cytology (LBC) jar. A conventional glass slide will not be prepared.
Screening will be recommended for women between the ages 25 – 74. Medicare-funding for screening outside these age groups will not be provided.
High risk HPV screening will allocate women to one of three categories:
Low Risk
Negative high risk HPV screening. Repeat screening recommended after 5 years.
High Risk
Positive for HPV types 16 or 18. A conventional PAP smear would then be prepared and a report issued recommending referral for a colposcopy
Intermediate risk
Negative for HPV types 16 or 18, but positive for one of the other tested HPV types. A conventional Pap smear would then be prepared.
If this is negative for any cervical abnormality, a report would be issued recommending repeat screening in 12 months.
If this is positive for a cervical abnormality, the women would be upgraded to “”High Risk””, and an appropriate report issued.
Why are these changes occurring?
The school-based HPV vaccination program is translating into a reduction in the incidence of cervical abnormalities. The Australian Government have therefore accepted recommendations about how cervical screening should occur.