HPV Self Sample Kits

These days when we think of HPV, we think about genital warts and STIs. We forget that when we go for our regular PAP smears that it is HPV related cancerous cells we are in fact looking for. HPV is one of the most common STIs today and yet women aren’t availing of the opportunity to have free smear tests. They are recommended on a three yearly basis and furthermore, are free of charge. A group of researchers at the Queen Mary University of London looked at GP records in order to collect and analyze data for this study. They gleaned some startling results.

Looking at 137 practices situated in East London, they discovered that 86,000 female patients had not gone for a smear test in the last 3.5 years. Surprisingly though, over half of the patients had been to their GP within the past year and almost one third had been to see their GP in the past three months.

In response to the fact that so many women are not turning up for their free tests, self-sampling tests, handed out by GPs, are now a big consideration. The move is said to be incentivized by the fact that most women who do not show for their free smears are still seeing their GPs for unrelated health concerns or issues. More studies have yet to be carried out on self-sampling for HPV but current findings suggest that 80% of women who test positive on a self-sample attend their GP for a follow up. This would seem to be the smart step forward. It’s hard to know why women aren’t availing of the opportunity to have a free smear; is it down to organizational complications, laziness, or lack of awareness? Either way, self-sampling would surely make it easier for everyone while spreading awareness of HPV related cancer cells in the cervix and the importance of getting checked every three years.

There were approximately 3,000 new cases of cervical cancer diagnosed in 2011 in the UK. Numbers like this are frightening, especially when attendance rates for smears are considered. Self-sampling has got to be the way forward. We will wait for further updates on the self-sampling route, but until then, here’s hoping women avail of regular smears through the NHS.

You can find out more about self-sampling at HomeDiagnostics.co.uk