Cervical screening

The National Cervical Cancer Screening Program recommends a Cervical Screening Test for females aged 25–74 every 5 years, to check for the presence of human papillomavirus, a common virus that can cause cervical cancer. This renewed cancer screening program was introduced in December 2017 and replaced the Pap test every 2 years in females aged 18– 69 (Cancer Council Australia 2022; Department of Health and Aged Care 2022).

Prison entrants screened for cervical cancer

More than a half (55%) of female prison entrants reported having received a screening for cervical cancer in the previous 5 years (Indicator 1.5.4).

Female prison entrants reported higher rates of cervical cancer screening than females in the general community (55% compared with 46%) (AIHW 2021). However, rates were lower among First Nations entrants (41%) than among non-Indigenous entrants (65%).

Prison dischargees screened for cervical cancer

Nearly 2 in 5 (38%) female prison dischargees reported receiving a cervical cancer screening in prison (Indicator 1.5.5).

First Nations female dischargees were more likely to report receiving a cervical cancer screening in prison (46%) than non-Indigenous female dischargees (29%).

The majority of female dischargees had been in prison for less than 12 months. With cervical screening recommended every 5 years, many dischargees might not have been due for a cervical cancer screening during their period of incarceration.