Taking it home

Women in the UK will be able to conduct self-tests for human papillomavirus (HPV) as part of a pilot scheme to combat low cervical cancer screening rates. 

Currently, home smear test kits can be purchased privately but are not routinely available on the NHS. The trial will see women in some parts of England receiving kits through the post.

The scheme emerges as cervical cancer screening rates continue to fall, having declined to 71.4 per cent of eligible women and 61.1 per cent of women aged 25-28, as of March 2018.

Robert Music, Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust chief executive, said: “We know from our research that there is a huge appetite for self-testing and want to see it introduced to the NHS screening programme as soon as possible.”

Anne Mackie, director of screening at Public Health England (PHE), added: “Anything that can be done that helps support more women get safely screened, we welcome. This is why we have asked the UK National Screening Committee to consider the merits of HPV home self-testing kits for women.”

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