Cervical screening is not recommended in the renewed program for women under 25 years. Some women under 25 will present with an expectation for screening, having had previous Pap tests.
Pathology Laboratories are reporting that a significant number of samples are being submitted from women under 25 years of age. Medicare does not fund routine HPV screening tests in women under 25 and testing of these samples will either need to be privately funded by the patient or, with the consent of the referring practitioner, not be processed. Commencing screening at age 25 will reduce the investigation and treatment of common cervical abnormalities that would usually resolve by themselves. It can take 10 to 15 years for cervical cancer to develop from persistent HPV. Women under 25 years who are currently under clinical management for a cervical abnormality should be managed according to the recommendations on transitioning individuals in the 2016 Guidelines.
However, for women who experienced early sexual activity at a young age (<14 years) and who had not received the HPV vaccine before sexual debut, or those that have been victims of sexual abuse, a single HPV test between 20 and 24 years of age could be considered on an individual basis. To avoid out of pocket fees for your patients, please familiarise yourself with the Pathology Test Guide for Cervical and Vaginal Testing.
Further information on the Renewal of the National Cervical Screening Program is available at www.cancerscreening.gov.au/cervical.