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Covid smear-test delays prompt calls for home HPV tests

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Smear-test delays during lockdown have prompted calls for home-screening kits.

Cervical cancer screening has restarted across the UK - but some women say they will not attend their appointments for fear of catching Covid.

Jo's Cervical Cancer Trust is urging "faster action" on home tests for HPV, which causes 99% of cervical cancers.

An NHS official said GP practices should continue screening throughout lockdown, and "anyone invited for a cervical smear test should attend".

Cancer Research UK said it was not yet known how effective and accurate self-sampling could be in cervical screening.

A survey by gynaecological cancer charity the Eve Appeal indicates nearly one in three missed smear tests are the result of people being "put off" by coronavirus. And a Jo's Cervical Cancer Trust survey during the pandemic suggests the same proportion would prefer to take their own human-papillomavirus (HPV) test rather than go to a GP.

Acting chief executive Rebecca Shoosmith said coronavirus had added "more barriers" to going for a smear test. "Sadly those who found it difficult before are likely to be no closer to getting tested," she said. "Self-sampling would be a game-changer."

Both charities emphasise smear tests are for "women and anyone with a cervix" and transgender and non-binary people may have additional barriers to going.

Jo's Cervical Cancer Trust said DIY tests could also help people who had been sexually assaulted and those with disabilities or from backgrounds where smear tests were taboo.

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Source: BBC News, 21 January 2021

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