A Pap smear is a screening test for pre-cancerous changes in the cervix.
Cervical Cancer is caused by persisting infection with high risk subtypes of Human Papilloma Virus (HPV)
Currently in Australia it is recommended that Pap smear testing be commenced at around 2 years after commencing sexual activity, after the age of 18. More frequent screening may be recommended if abnormalities have been seen, or as part of the follow up of treatment for cervical cell abnormalities.
Due to the introduction of the HPV vaccine (Gardasil) and to the availability of HPV testing, the screening process is going to change in 2016. The new screening program will include a change to HPV testing instead of conventional Pap smears, with screening to commence at age 25.
More information will be made available closer to the time of change over to the new testing program.
For more information:
National Cervical Screening Program