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A new way for cervical screening

Tuesday, September 5, 2023


On September 12, the main test for cervical screening changes to a human papillomavirus (HPV) test. This means that for most people, a vaginal swab will be taken and tested for HPV, and this can be done by a clinician or as a self-test.  
The new test looks for the Human Papillomavirus (HPV), that causes more than 95% of cervical cancers.  

For clinical reasons, some people will still be recommended to have a clinician-taken cervical sample (previously known as a smear test).  
The change to the screening programme means more people will be able to access this safe and accurate life-saving healthcare. 

"The shift to HPV screening is a positive step to help eliminate a preventable cancer. Māori and Pasifika wāhine are exponentially at greater risk of developing cervical cancer and dying from it. The HPV screening programme provides more options for wāhine, which leads to greater access, and better outcomes,” Dr Tania Huria, Director Hauora Māori and Equity with Family Planning says.  

“Wāhine should not be dying from a cancer that is preventable. HPV Screening is one part of the prevention and treatment pathway, and I am excited to consider Family Planning’s role in addressing cervical cancer inequities”.  

The NCSP (National Cervical Screening Programme) is not a fully funded screening programme. However, Te Whatu Ora has announced funding to provide free cervical screening services for key groups, including those at higher risk of cervical cancer. 

On the first day of the new programme (12 September), cervical screening will be free for everyone at Family Planning clinics.  

Read more about the upcoming changes at 

Family Planning has clinics located throughout New Zealand. Use the clinic finder to find your nearest clinic.