Originally Posted by ErinYay
You kind of contradicted yourself- almost 50% of 20-25 year old women who are sexually active have HPV. I personally had a very fast-developing cancer-causing strain that went from a perfectly good pap to a cold cone biopsy in 6 months where CIN-3 cells (precancerous cells that are the last stop before full cancer) at 25.
Paps for women who are sexually active *are* needed regularly to ensure the US doesn't end up with a huge mortality rate for cervical cancer. Brazil, for example, has a low pap smear rate and a high death rate due of cervical cancer. Compelling women to get a pap in exchange for birth control is one of those "greater good" kind of things, and an individual good if you're one of the unlucky ones who has cancerous HPV.
I'm sorry you had to experience that. I hope you are feeling better now.
Yes, being sexually active is a reason to think about getting screened. What I meant was, birth control and cervical cancer screening should not be linked because health wise, they do not immediately effect each other. A pap smear is not a screening test that rules out contra-indications for taking BC. A pap smear is a screen for cancerous changes of the cervix. It has nothing to do with your suitability for taking contraceptives. Might it be a good idea to have a pap smear if you are sexually active with a non-virgin partner? Yes, its something you should consider.
However, greater good or not, I do not think requiring cancer screening of every woman who wants birth control is the way to go. Its paternalistic. Women are perfectly capable of examining the facts, considering their risk factors and making their own decisions. Also, not all women on birth control are sexually active. Many women take it for other reasons, like heavy menstrual bleeding, irregular periods, etc.
I am also aware that a large percentage of sexually active people have HPV. However, most strains of HPV are fairly harmless. Only a very small few cause cancer, and not everyone who gets those strains will develop cancer either. According to the CDC, most healthy people clear HPV from their bodies all on their own without any special treatment.