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Sex and cervical cancer

Thursday 20 September, 2012 by Amy

What does sex have to do with cervical cancer? Actually, it has everything to do with it. Put simply, if you're a woman and you've done it, then you're at risk.

Many women in Australia don't realise that cervical cancer is one of the most preventable cancers. In fact, up to 90% of cervical cancer diagnoses are avoidable with two-yearly Pap tests.

Despite this good news, only around 60% of eligible Australian women are screening as recommended under the National Cervical Screening Program.

Why is this, ladies? From our research at PapScreen Victoria, the most common reasons why women avoid Pap tests are embarrassment and believing they're not at risk. 

PapScreen Victoria has launched a racy new campaign to try and address this. It revolves around a video depicting an intimate scene between a couple that is dramatically, and rather unexpectedly, interrupted. We suggest you watch the video to see why.

The risqué concept is a new approach for PapScreen, which is hoping the enticing combination of sex and humour will help cut through common misconceptions about cervical screening and motivate more women to take part.

The video is designed to remind women that cervical cancer is caused by an STI called the human papillomavirus (HPV), and that even one sexual experience puts them at risk of developing the disease. 

This goes for women who have only had sex once, who always practice safe sex, women who only have sex with women, those who have had the same partner for years, and women who have been vaccinated

HPV is extremely common, so common that around 80% of us will have it at some point in our lives. It's usually harmless, but persistent HPV infections can cause cervical cell changes which if left undetected and untreated, can lead to cervical cancer.

This is why it's so important for all women aged between 18 and 70 who have ever been sexually active to have a Pap test every two years. Having regular Pap tests is the only way to detect these unhealthy changes.

Pap tests are provided in Australia via the National Cervical Screening Program to women aged 18–70. Since the program was introduced in 1991, the number of deaths caused by cervical cancer has halved.  

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