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AUCKLAND – Fashion Meets Health: Pacific Cervical Screening Retail Pop-up A Great Success

In the first of its kind, fashion retailers, a gallery, community providers, and a health ministry collaborated on a Cervical Screening pop-up shop.

The Hibiscus Room, a private and vibrant temporary space where women could complete the new HPV self-test, was activated in Onehunga Mall last Friday – the Cervical Cancer Elimination Day of Action. The one-day pop-up was part of a Pacific Cervical Screening campaign initiative to encourage women to try the new HPV self-test.

The new HPV test includes the option of a quick and simple swab that people can choose to do as a self-test or have a clinician assist with. It detects the presence of the human papillomavirus (HPV) which causes more than 95 percent of cervical cancers.

The event was led by Te Whatu Ora’s National Cervical Screening Programme in partnership with health providers Pasefika Family Health Group and the Village Collective, and retailers TAV Pacific, MENA, and LAKA Gallery. Women were able to pre-book their screening or walk-in on the day.

Sheena Tavioni, owner of designer fashion store TAV Pacific, said the cervical screening message was very close to her because she had lost family to the preventable (if caught early) disease.

“My aunty passed away in her early 30s and left behind three young children. The more we embrace cervical screening, the more we empower women to take control of their health. My callout is to make it a topic of conversation so we can spread more awareness and get other women onboard to take the opportunity to get screening done and save lives,” she said.

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Dr Jane O’Hallahan, Clinical Lead, Screening, Te Whatu Ora said: “The uptake of the new HPV self-test continues to grow as our outreach increases. This is hugely significant for Pacific and other underscreened groups who may have avoided screening due to cultural barriers in particular. The choice to control the test themselves, in private, is already making an impact.”

Three women who tried the new HPV self-test at the Hibiscus Room pop-up hadn’t been tested in 25 years, and four women were first time screeners.

Support to Screen provider Emily Toimata-Holtham said: “The new HPV self-test has made a big difference, especially for our women who haven't been screened, because it is easy and less invasive – they feel empowered to do it themselves.”

Further information is available at www.timetocervicalscreen.nz

BACKGROUND INFORMATION AND KEY MESSAGES

Cervical cancer is one of the most preventable cancers. Having regular cervical screening is one of the best ways to protect yourself from cervical cancer, along with HPV vaccination.

Screening rates for Pacific people released in June this year were 55.9 percent, nearly 12 percent lower than the national average.

Around 180 people are diagnosed with cervical cancer every year and about 60 die from it.

Around 85% of people who develop cervical cancer in New Zealand have either never been screened or have been screened infrequently.

HPV screening detects the presence of human papillomavirus (HPV) that causes most cervical cancer.

HPV is very common and is passed on by intimate skin-to-skin contact or any sexual activity. Most adults will have HPV at some time in their lives and in most cases, it clears up by itself.

Some types of the virus can persist and go on to cause cell changes that may over time develop into cervical cancer.

With HPV screening, people now have options for how they have their cervical screening done:

as a simple vaginal swab that you can either do yourself or ask a healthcare provider to assist you with, or

as a cervical sample, taken from your cervix by a healthcare provider; what used to be called a smear test. (If HPV is found, this option also allows for your sample to then be checked for any cell changes).

Regardless of which option you have, you will need to have a consultation with a screen-taker or other healthcare professional first.

If you choose the vaginal swab and HPV is detected, you need to come back for follow-up testing to check for cell changes.

If you're a woman or person with a cervix, aged 25-69, and have ever had intimate skin-to-skin or sexual contact, you should have cervical screening every 5 years (or every 3 years if immune-deficient).

Cervical cancer often takes ten years or more to develop. So, 5-yearly screening is a very safe interval.

Screening is free for people aged 30 and over who have never had a cervical screen or who haven’t had a screen in the last five years. Free screening will also apply to Community Services Card holders and Māori and Pacific people. Any follow-up tests or treatment are free for all participants in the National Cervical Screening Programme.

Further information is available at www.timetocervicalscreen.nz

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