HPV: New Zealand’s Most Common Sexually Transmitted Infection Explained

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Smear testing programs are free for kiwifruit aged 25 to 69 years

Before November 1, 2019, people aged 20 to 24 were also offered free swab tests, but there is evidence that this age group has little benefit.

“So if you look at the number of cervical cancers over time in this 20-25 age group, it’s low numbers that don’t change,” says Dr. Messenger.

“Screening women between the ages of 20 and 25 has not reduced the number of women in that age group who will develop cervical cancer.”

“These younger women are more likely to get rid of the virus on their own. Young people also respond better to vaccinations.”

What if my smear becomes abnormal?

Dr. Messenger says that for most women, the virus will naturally improve in a year or two. In some cases, HPV can take longer to clear from the body, which increases the risk of developing cervical cancer.

It’s important to remember that HPV infections usually clear on their own. Most abnormal cells are not cervical cancer and can usually be treated.

Unfortunately, there is nothing you can do to get rid of abnormal cells. It’s up to your body’s immune system.

HPV does not cause symptoms, so the only way to check your status is through regular testing.

The best way to protect yourself from cervical cancer is to keep practicing safe sex, get vaccinated, and have cervical swabs regularly.



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