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Cervical screening HPV test result research

Posted by: , Posted on: - Categories: NHS Cervical Screening Programme

As you may be aware, the cervical screening programme in England is changing to use human papillomavirus (HPV) primary screening.

HPV primary is a new and improved way of checking the health of the cervix and will mean all women will be tested for HPV when they attend screening. It will be rolled out across the NHS Cervical Screening Programme in England by the end of 2019.

Getting a positive HPV test result has the potential to cause anxiety. It is therefore important to know how women feel about getting one and to understand the impact it may have on screening attendance.

At University College London University College London (UCL) we are collaborating with the NHS and Public Health England to explore this issue in depth.

Finding women for the study

We are particularly interested in speaking to women who have received an HPV positive with normal cytology test result. This means women with HPV who have normal cells in their cervix.

We will be contacting a small number of women (around 1,500) who get this test result in London and Manchester to invite them to join our study.

If women want to take part in the study, they’ll need to complete a short survey which we will send them in the post. Some women who complete our survey may be invited to take part in a one-to-one interview with a female researcher from UCL. Please note, there are no obligations to take part.

Two women talking to each other with one woman holding a pen and asking the women some questions
Some women may be invited to take part in a one-to-one interview

How you can help

If you’re a healthcare professional working in cervical screening in London North West University Healthcare NHS Trust or Manchester University NHS Trust, please inform patients that they might be contacted by UCL about this study at some point in 2019.

If women would rather we didn’t get in touch, advise them to contact their local NHS teams in North West London or Manchester.

More information

A close up of a lady, Emily McBride, smiling at the camera
Emily is keen to get feedback on her HPV research about women who have received an HPV positive with normal cytology test result

Further information about the study is available online. I welcome feedback on this research, so please feel free to email me.

Lastly, we are always looking for people to take part in our cervical cancer prevention and communication research. If anyone (healthcare professionals or the public) is interested in getting involved in our other research, or would just like more information, please get in touch.

Funding information and credit

This blog presents information about independent research funded by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR). The views expressed are my own and not necessarily those of the NHS, the NIHR, or the Department of Health and Social Care.

PHE Screening blogs

PHE Screening blogs provide up to date news from all NHS screening programmes. You can register to receive updates direct to your inbox, so there’s no need to keep checking for new blogs. If you have any questions about this blog article, or about population screening in England, please contact the PHE screening helpdesk.

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  1. Comment by Sheila Knotts posted on

    Having been in the situation of having a positive HPV result and mild changes. I would say how women react has to do with the information they receive before they get the result. For example, Jo's Trust has a fold out card explaining HPV and that would have been so helpful to me. I only found about this was available last autumn.

    Getting an HPV a positive result, after many years of perfect smears, meant I could not help working my way back through sexual partners. And my current partner was very distressed that he might be the cause of me needing treatment. I was embarrassed and ashamed that I hadn't protected myself better.

    Friends I spoke to about HPV had no idea what it was. The fact that there is only one letter different from HIV caused confusion and concern. I appreciate the name of HPV can't be changed, so education has to be improved.

    • Replies to Sheila Knotts>

      Comment by Andrew Anderson posted on

      Dear Sheila

      Thank you for your comment - you are certainly not alone in feeling this way.

      We recently revised the cervical screening result letters following feedback from women about receiving an HPV positive result. These new letters will provide further information about what an HPV positive result means. We plan to publish the letters shortly.

      I have passed your comment onto our programme manager for information.

      Best wishes

  2. Comment by Kat Rehman posted on

    To be truly balanced in your approach to communication with women do you also propose to take submissions from those of us who decline cervical screening?

    • Replies to Kat Rehman>

      Comment by Andrew Anderson posted on

      Dear Kat
      Thanks for getting in touch. You raise an important point. The views of women who decline cervical screening are essential as attendance should be an informed choice. In fact, this is a focus in many of our research projects.
      However, in this particular study, we want to know how women feel after they get a certain test result (HPV positive with normal cells). So they need to have attended to get this result in the first place.
      All the best