Assessing whether the wrong young women are receiving Pap tests?

February 1, 2010

According to self-reported information from young women aged 15 to 24 years, about 14% of those who have never had sexual intercourse received a Papanicolaou (Pap) test during the previous year, and about one-third of those who reported being sexually active did not.

According to self-reported information from young women aged 15 to 24 years, about 14% of those who have never had sexual intercourse received a Papanicolaou (Pap) test during the previous year, and about one-third of those who reported being sexually active did not.

The findings come from a recent analysis of survey data from 2,513 young women. Of the 33% of women who reported never having had sex, 13.9% reported having received a Pap smear in the previous year.

Of the women who reported being sexually active, 67% reported receiving a Pap smear during the previous year, and slightly more than half (59%) of the women who reported having initiated sexual activity in the previous 3 years reported receiving a Pap smear in the previous year.

If the findings in the study can be extrapolated to the population at large and if the patterns observed therein persist, the authors concluded, then education is urgently needed to ensure that Pap smears are being performed on the appropriate young women.

Saraiya M, Martinez G, Glaser K, Kulasingam S. Pap testing and sexual activity among young women in the United States. Obstet Gynecol. 2009;114(6):1213-1219.