Cervical cancer is preventable, testing is important

We are currently not accepting referrals for Pap testing. You can find a Pap clinic near you at BCCA.ca.


Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) is the most common sexually transmitted infection (STI). You can get the virus anytime when you're sexually active. Almost 8 out of 10 Canadians will get an HPV infection in their lifetime.

HPV spreads from person to person, though skin-to-skin contact
( penetration is not required) or during genital, anal or oral sex. There is no cure for HPV once you're infected.

HPV is the cause of most cervical cancers. After breast cancer ,cervical cancer is the second highest cause of death in women between the ages of 20 and 44. 1550 women are diagnosed with cervical cancer annually in Canada, for 400 of those women, it is fatal.

There are 118 different strains of HPV. Most are not harmful. However, 14 HPV genotypes signify high-risk for developing cervical cancer. HPV causes genital warts and can also lead to anal, mouth, penile, vaginal, vulvar and throat cancers.

In most cases, HPV infection has no noticeable signs or symptoms, as a result, you just don't know when you or your partner are infecting ,or being infected by someone else. The body’s immune system destroys the infection within a couple of years. When HPV persists with high-risk strains, there is an increased risk of developing cervical cancer.

Cervical cancer, however, is preventable. 

HPV Vaccine

HPV vaccines help prevent HPV infections. In doing so, they also prevent diseases associated with some of the most prevalent high-risk HPV strains.

Gardasil9 ® is the only HPV vaccine available in Canada which helps protect against nine HPV types. Seven of these HPV types can cause cervical cancer. Plus, GARDASIL9® helps protect against two HPV types that cause genital warts. If you’re already infected with one type of HPV contained in the vaccine, GARDASIL9 ® will help protect you against the other eight types.

The HPV vaccine is provided free to BC children ( boys and girls) in Grade Six as part of routine school vaccination programs. However, one-third of eligible students in BC have not been fully immunized against HPV. 

GARDASIL®9 can be administered to all women and men up to 45 years of age and can be obtained by prescription from your health care provider.

HPV/Pap Cotesting

A normal pap does not mean you are cancer-free. Routine HPV testing is not available in Canada, however, It is a highly sensitive, non-invasive, DNA-based testing method that evaluates the presence of 14 types of high-risk HPV viruses in the sample of cervical cells.

Unlike the Pap test, the HPV test can detect the presence of a high-risk virus before any changes can be detected in the cells of the cervix

Together, a Pap and HPV test can be highly effective for the early detection of cervical cancer in women over 30. The HPV test detects the presence of high-risk HPV strains,that can cause cervical cancer, while the Pap test detects the presence of abnormal cells which could develop into cervical cancer.

Women over 30 with an abnormal pap test viz. ASCUS or LSIL , both findings of abnormal cells in the tissue that lines the outer part of the cervix, will benefit from HPV co-testing .

HPV co-testing  is also recommended to assess eligibility for the HPV vaccine.

At the IUD clinic, we offer HPV co-testing. Please note ,provincial health insurance plans do not currently cover this test, but your extended health insurance plan might. 

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