5 reasons why I believe the age for smear testing should be lowered:
1. At 18 years old, I can get married without parental consent. I can join the armed forces. I can even buy a house if I’m in the financial position to. But I must wait 7 years more before I’m eligible for a smear test, as the risks of me having a smear test, are considered to outweigh the benefits.
2. Between 2013 and 2015, there were 95 cases of cervical cancer in women aged between 15 and 24. Of this figure, 4.3% of those women died as a result of the disease. Women are losing their lives to a disease that is easily preventable, because the death total is lower in younger years than older.
3. The average age that women begin to engage in sexual intercourse is 17 years and 4 months. Deaths from cervical cancer are more common in women from deprived areas, where stereotypically, women engage in sexual activity at a younger age, and rates of unplanned pregnancy are higher. Shouldn’t more of an effort be made to protect these women from the risk of cervical cancer, that is associated with sexual activity?
4. In order to reduce cases of cervical cancer in 25 to 30-year old’s, the government introduced the HPV vaccine, which is administered in schools, and girls can have on the NHS up to their 18th birthday. But not every child will get the vaccine, and herd immunisation cannot protect everyone on the planet. Why should women who were denied that vaccine as young teenagers, suffer the potentially fatal consequences as young adults?
5. Over 130,000 people signed an online petition for the age of smear testing to be lowered to 18, in less than a fortnight after the petition was launched. This is clearly something that the public desperately want to see, in order to potentially save the lives of women, mothers, daughters sisters, girlfriends, wives and friends.