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2010 National Women's Conference
22 October 2009

Your most probably wondering what does the title of this motion actually refer to, well, it is the present age gap of seven years, between the age of 18-25 years.

Eighteen years being the upper limit that the HPV vaccination is presenting being offered in our schools to young women and twenty five years in England being the first date that young women in England will be first called for cervical screening.

This motion raises concerns for young women specifically in England, as elsewhere in Britain, namely Wales, Scotland and Ireland, the age of commencing cervical smears is 20 years. Indeed, Australia, USA and some of the European countries the starting age for routine cervical screening is again 20 years with the offer of an earlier smear with two years of becoming sexually active.

Recently, Ann Keen, Health Minister has requested advice from the Advisory Committee on Cervical Screening (ACCS) to review the screening on young women under the age of 25. This committee was unanimous in its decision to keep the commencement of routine screening at its present age of 25 years.

However, the other three countries are keeping there starting limit to 20 years.

This motion not only asks for better consistency of a cervical smear policy throughout Britain, but also asks for informed choice for these young ladies in the 18-25 year age range to have a smear on the NHSA if they feel they want one.

Interestingly, an article by Lucy Hood “The Smear Campaign against Cervical Screening”, suggests that as a 23 year old in England she was advised to lie about her symptoms to ensure she received a smear test. That the NHS did not receive funding presently for women under 25 years and that unless there was a medical reason for doing the smear the laboratories could refuse to do the test.

This motion asks why should young women in England lie about symptoms to receive a cervical smear, alternatively why should this age group have to pay privately for one in England when in Scotland or Wales it would be free.

For at least the next 7-10 years, while our newly vaccinated HPV cervix’s come of age, surely we should have some clarity for young women in Britain, to commence routine cervical smears at the same time.

Britain has one of the highest teenage pregnancy rates in Europe, young girls are embarking on there first sexual experiences at much younger ages and inevitably with more partners. Whilst the HPV vaccination will without doubt reduce cervical cancer in the future, concern has to be for the 18-25 year group now, who unless they have specific symptoms and seek advice will not receive treatment, which in a few cases will mean the difference between life or death.

The ladies of the Royal Shropshire Health Branch asks the National Women’s Conference to instruct the National Women’s Committee to support this motion and take action to support young women aged 18-25 years in England to receive the same far and equitable cervical screening programme received by the rest of Britain.

Please support this motion.