According to the Department of Health, under the renewed program, cervical screening is not recommended for women under 25 years. However, pathology laboratories are reporting that a significant number of samples are being submitted from women under 25 years of age.
Health providers are being advised that 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.
Symptomatic women at any age
Women at any age who have signs or symptoms suggestive of cervical cancer (such as abnormal vaginal bleeding) should have a HPV and LBC co-test and be referred for the appropriate investigation to exclude genital tract malignancy.
- Routine cervical screening is not recommended in women under the age of 25 years.
- 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.
The Department of Health is advising health providers to become familiar with the Pathology Test Guide for Cervical and Vaginal Testing, to avoid out of pocket fees for their patients.
Further information on the Renewal of the National Cervical Screening Program is available at