Delighted to take part in an excellent cross-party debate on Cervical Screening. Human Papilloma Virus causes virtually all Cervical Cancer but we can prevent it – through HPV vaccination & screening to identify women at risk. Although the petition specifically calls for annual cervical smear tests, what we are all actually trying to achieve is the prevention and eventual elimination of cervical cancer.
To reduce the risk of cervical cancer, we need to get rid of the stigma of HPV and ensure that all women and young people understand its importance in the development of cancer. It is a very common virus, which, in the vast majority of cases, causes no harm and is cleared by the body’s own defences, but some strains pose a higher risk of causing malignant change.
The HPV vaccine was introduced for young teenage girls in 2008 and initially included those up to 18 years, so that they would be vaccinated before leaving school. The vaccine is now also provided to boys, both to protect them from other HPV-related cancers and to provide additional protection to women by reducing how many men carry HPV in the first place.
The UK National Screening Committee has recommended that women who are HPV-negative and therefore at very low risk are offered routine repeat screening every five years, from the ages of 25 to 65. That system has been fully rolled out in Scotland since March last year.
Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust suggests that a simpler at-home method of sampling could get more women to engage and take up HPV testing as the first step of screening.
Please encourage your sons and daughters to take the HPV jag when offered at school, and do attend for your screening appointments. We can all work to prevent Cervical Cancer.
You can watch my speech in full below: