HPV Screening and Cervical Cancer Prevention

Regular cervical screenings detect abnormal changes in the cells of your cervix, which can help prevent cervical cancer or improve your chance of complete recovery.

Take control of your cervical health with HPV screening 

HPV (human papillomavirus) testing has replaced Pap tests to screen for cervical cancer on PEI.

Nearly 70 percent of cervical cancers are caused by two strains of HPV. 

HPV testing can detect the virus before it causes significant cell changes. It can also detect high-risk strains of the virus, which are more likely to cause cancer.

For more information, see Frequently Asked Questions on HPV.


Who should get screened?

You should be screened for HPV at least once every five years* if you: 

  • have a cervix, 
  • are 25 to 65 years of age, and
  • have been sexually active (penetrative sex and/or oral, manual or genital contact with a partner's genital area.)

You should be screened whether you have been vaccinated for HPV or not. 

*If your last test was a routine pap that proved normal, book an HPV test for three years from your last pap. If your first HPV test is normal you can return for your next HPV test in five years. 


You should be screened for HPV at least once every three years if: 

You completed treatment for biopsy-proven abnormal cells (cervical dysplasia) in the past. 


You have a weakened immune system. You may have a weakened immune system any of the following apply. You are:

  • a transplant recipient, 
  • being treated with medications that cause immune suppression for three years or more, 
  • HIV/AIDS positive, 
  • living with renal failure and requiring dialysis, or 
  • living with systematic lupus erythematosus.


If you are age 66 or older: 

You can discontinue screening if within the last 10 years you have had  

  • two consecutive negative primary HPV tests, or
  • three negative cytology tests, or 
  • a combination of both (one negative HPV test and two negative cytology tests)

If you are 66 or older without documentation of prior screening, you should continue screening until the criteria above are met. 


What if I’ve had a hysterectomy?

If you still have your cervix, you should have a regular HPV test every five years.

If you do not have a cervix, consult with your healthcare provider to determine if screening is right for you and if so, at what frequency. 


If you are under surveillance or treatment with a physician, nurse practitioner, or specialist, ask them what frequency of testing is best for you.


What happens during an HPV test? 

HPV testing is done in a similar way to a Pap test. 

A physician, nurse practitioner, or registered nurse collects a small sample of cells from the cervix or vagina. 

The lab analyzes the sample and tests for HPV strains more likely to cause cancer. 


Regular cervical screenings and being vaccinated for HPV are the best ways to protect yourself from cervical cancer.  Learn more about the HPV vaccine.  


Get screened for HPV


Contact the provincial Cervical Cancer Screening Service

To book an appointment at one of the cervical cancer screening clinics:

Telephone:  902-368-5901 
Toll-free:   1-888-561-2233
Fax:  902-370-5870


Published date: 
May 19, 2023
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