Region Västmanland Introduces Self-sampling for HPV Testing

HPV egenprovtagning i Västmanland - engelskaThe content concerns Västmanland

During 2022, Region Västmanland will begin sending out human papillomavirus (HPV) sample collection kits to women aged 30 years and older. Self-sampling is an alternative to having a midwife collect a sample for HPV testing.

What the sample shows

The sample shows the presence of human papillomavirus (HPV). Your test result will tell you if your sample contained HPV or not. Long-term HPV infection can lead to .

If you have been vaccinated against HPV

Even if you have been vaccinated against HPV you should still send in a sample for testing, since the vaccine does not protect you against all types of HPV that can cause cell changes.

When should I not use a HPV self-sampling kit?

  • If you are pregnant. In that case, your sample must be collected by a midwife instead.
  • If your womb has been surgically removed.
  • If you have any questions or would like help collecting your sample.

Cell changes in your cervix

Although often disappear on their own, certain types of cell changes need treatment, since they can otherwise develop into cancer.

How do I collect my sample?

You collect your sample using a special cotton bud that you slide into your vagina. You then seal this cotton bud inside a test tube. Next, place the test tube inside the return envelope that came with your kit. You should then send your sample in for testing by placing the envelope in any ordinary postbox. More detailed instructions are included with your sampling kit.

What happens after I send in my sample?

If your sample shows that you are infected with HPV, you will be called to an appointment with a midwife to do a cervical smear test no earlier than 3 months after your test result came back. During this appointment, the midwife will collect one sample to check for HPV and another to check for cell changes in your cervix.

If the results show that there are cell changes in your cervix, you will be called to another appointment for further examination by a doctor.

If your test shows that you are now free from HPV, you will not need to do anything further. 

Why do I need to wait so long to get my test result and to get an appointment for follow-up testing?

The waiting period in between samplings gives your body time to fight off the HPV infection on its own. It is not dangerous to wait 3–4 months for a follow-up test to be carried out by a midwife.

Is HPV self-sampling as reliable as a HPV sample collected by a midwife?

Yes. Lengthy experience based on research studies shows that HPV self-sampling is just as reliable as a sample collected by a midwife.

How is it possible for me to be able to collect my sample as well as a midwife could?

A person who collects their own HPV sample does not need to take the sample from as far inside their vagina as when a midwife does a cervical smear test. It is enough just to rotate the cotton bud a few times inside your vagina. This will gather the cells needed to find out whether you are infected with HPV or not.

I have tested positive for cell changes before, so I am concerned that my sample be collected correctly. How do I know that I can manage this on my own?

If recent test results show that you have cervical cell changes that need to be monitored more often than what is recommended in the standard screening schedule, you will not be included in the HPV self-sampling programme. On the other hand, if you have tested positive for cell changes that are to be monitored as part of the standard screening schedule, you might be included in the HPV self-sampling programme anyway.

Who will be included in the HPV self-sampling programme?

You might be included in the HPV self-sampling programme if you are 30 years old or above and have not recently tested positive for cell changes. If you do not receive a HPV self-sampling kit, you will be called to an appointment with a midwife for a cervical smear test in line with the standard HPV screening schedule.

What is the difference between a cervical smear test done by a midwife and HPV self-sampling?

When a midwife does a cervical smear test, they collect cells from both your cervix and your vagina. When you do your own self-sampling for HPV testing, you only collect cells from your vagina. In other words, it is not necessary to collect cells from your cervix to test for HPV. In fact, it is impossible for you to collect cells from your cervix yourself.

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