Cervical screening: a talanoa about your choices English HE1175

August 2023
This resource relates to the following topics:

Information about the Cervical Screening Programme and the range of options available to do a screening test. Designed to support people to decide which options are best for them (in consultation with their healthcare provider). In English language but with less explicit graphics and content to meet the needs of people in more conservative Pacific Community settings. This resource applies to cervical screening from 12 September 2023.

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August 2023
August 2023
Booklet A5
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A call to our Pacific women

Turou, Cook Islands
Tulou, Fiji
Mautauninga, Kiribati
Tulou, Niue
Turo’, Rotuma
Tulou, Samoa
Tulou, Tokelau
Tulou, Tuvalu
Tulou, Tonga

With deep respect
We clear the space
Honouring your

With our love
We acknowledge all
Pacific women of

With courage
We invite you to
Journey with us
Through this Sacred talanoa.

HPV and cervical cancer

Almost all cervical cancer is caused by human papillomavirus virus (HPV). The virus is very common and is spread by intimate skin-to-skin contact or any sexual activity. Almost all adults will have HPV at some stage in their lives.

Most cases of HPV usually clear by themselves but some types of the virus can persist and go on to cause cell changes that may in time turn into cancer.

It usually takes 10 years or more for cervical cancer to develop. Regular screening can find people at increased risk of developing cell changes so that if changes happen, they can be treated, often before they become cancer.

There are many stages between HPV infection, cell changes and cancer. Having HPV does not mean you have cancer.

Cervical cancer is one of the most preventable cancers.

Around 90% of people screened will NOT have HPV found and can just continue to have regular screening.
About 10% of people screened will have HPV and will need further checks.

About cervical screening

Along with being vaccinated against HPV, regular cervical screening reduces illness and death from cervical cancer. Being part of the National Cervical Screening Programme (NCSP) and having regular screening is the best way to protect yourself from cervical cancer so you can stay healthy for yourself and your family. Cervical Screening is now free for Pacific women. Please contact your provider.

There’s now a quick and easy cervical screening test that most people will only need every 5 years, with an option of doing it as a self-test.

The HPV test is very sensitive and accurate at detecting the virus that causes most cervical cancers. It will identify the 10% of those screened who are at increased risk of developing precancerous cervical cell changes; allowing early treatment and preventing more cervical cancers.

The new method of cervical screening looks for a common virus called human papillomavirus (HPV) which causes more than 95% of cervical cancers. The test is just as good whether you do it yourself, get your healthcare provider to help, or have a cervical sample taken.

How do I know if I need screening?

You are recommended to have screening if you are:

  • a woman or person with a cervix;
  • aged between 25 and 69;
  • sexually active now, or have ever been.

If you’ve had a total hysterectomy (removal of the uterus and cervix) check with your healthcare provider to see if you still need to have screening.

If you’re pregnant, it is safe to do the test. If you’ve got your period, you can still have a screening test, as long as bleeding isn’t too heavy because this could affect the test result.

Of the 180 people diagnosed with cervical cancer every year, around 85% have never been screened or have not had regular screening.

Cervical screening has never been easier. You have choices.

Your HPV testing options

1: Vaginal swab

This will be suitable for most people. You will be advised if a different test is appropriate for you.

A) As a self-test
Usually done in a private area at your screening appointment. Some screen-takers may offer community-based locations, a mobile unit, or a take-home option.
B) A trained health professional can assist you

A sample is collected from your vagina using a swab. The vaginal swab sample is tested only for HPV. 

If HPV is not found
Your next screening test will be in 5 years (or 3 years if you are immune deficient).

If HPV is found
Depending on the type of HPV detected, you may need to have a cervical sample taken (what used to be called a smear test) to check for any cell changes or, you may be referred to colposcopy to see if there are any changes to the cervix that may need treatment.

2: Cervical sample

Previously called a smear test. This may be recommended for some people, and you can still choose this option if you prefer.

A cervical sample is taken by a trained health professional

This can be done in clinical or community-based locations, or in a mobile unit.

Your screen-taker will take a sample of cells from your cervix using a speculum and small brush. The sample is first tested for HPV and, if HPV is found, it will also be checked for cell changes.

If HPV is not found
Your next screening test will be in 5 years (or 3 years if you are immune deficient).

If HPV is found
The same sample will be checked for any cell changes. Depending on the results, you may be referred to colposcopy to see if there are any changes to the cervix that may need treatment.

HPV test options

How do I join the cervical screening programme?

  1. Update your contact details
    You need to be on the NCSP-Register to get an invitation, recalls, and reminders to screen. If you are not sure if you are on the Register, call 0800 729 729 to check.
  2. Find out more about cervical screening
    Find out more about cervical screening, your options, and where to book an appointment by free phoning 0800 729 729 or visit TimeToCervicalScreen.nz
  3. Tell a friend or family member about cervical screening
    If you have a friend or family member who is eligible for cervical screening, share this information and tell them about the new HPV self-test. It might just save their life!

Pausing screening or withdrawing from the NCSP

You can choose to withdraw from the NCSP at any time, or you can remain on the Register but opt out of receiving any communications. You can contact the Programme about either of these options and if you decide to withdraw, we will send you a form to complete. You can also find the form on our website. We will keep some of your identity details in our system with a note not to contact you again. All information about your cervical screening tests and history will be removed from our records.

You can rejoin the programme anytime if you change your mind.

See the privacy section on the Time to Screen website for details on how information collected by the Programme is securely managed.

You are fearfully and wonderfully made.

We wish you well on your journey and send you all our love, alofa, aro’a, hanisi, loloma, ofa, tekeraoi.