Why and When to have a Pap Test

by Erin Switzer

Did you know that more than 45 types of HPV (human papillomavirus) are transmitted by intimate sexual contact? Persistent infection with a high-risk type of HPV can lead to cervical cancer.

HPV is a common virus that affects women and men. Over 70% of people will get high-risk HPV at some time in their life.

Most often, the body fights off the infection and the virus clears within 2 years. If the virus does not clear, the cell changes caused by high-risk HPV can develop into cervical cancer over many years if not treated.

Cancer of the cervix is the 13th most frequently diagnosed cancer among Canadian women.

When should Pap tests be done?

The current Alberta Guideline for Screening for Cervical Cancer recommends that cervical cancer screening should begin at age 21 or approximately 3 years after first intimate sexual activity (skin-to-skin contact in the genital area including touching, oral sex, or intercourse with a partner of either sex), whichever occurs later.

How often should you have a Pap?

The screening interval has been extended for many women with negative screening histories, while some women should continue to screen annually.

Pap test chart - who and how often.png

For women under 21: Interactions with health care providers may still be necessary for STI screening and HPV vaccination.

Women's Wellness Clinic is Wednesdays 9:00 to 4:30 at the Wetaskiwin PCN - we have a full female staff.

For more information you can visit: www.screeningforlife.ca or visit your healthcare provider.

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