Tarn’s message this HPV Awareness Day: “Don’t put off going for your cervical screening test.” 

Cancer Council NSW
Tarn Davies, a 39-year-old, busy mum of five. A cervical screening test revealed Tarn had tested positive for HPV-18.

On Monday 4 March, 2024, Cancer Council NSW recognises International HPV Awareness Day. Human papillomavirus (HPV) causes most cervical cancers and often has no visible symptoms.

After Tarn Davies, a 39-year-old, busy mum of five, went for her routine cervical screening test, she got the call telling her to come in. Tarn had tested positive for HPV-18 and had three lesions on her cervix which they suspected were low-risk abnormal cells.

Tarns results indicated she had high-risk abnormal cells, which was very confronting knowing the next stage would be cervical cancer and it was quickly developing. Tarn’s lesions along with the high-risk HPV were removed from her cervix and she has been HPV-18 clear ever since.

Tarn’s cervical screening wake-up call

Back in 2019, Tarn realised she had received a few reminders she was due to go in for her cervical screening test.

As a working mum, Tarn understandably finds it hard to find the time to do things for herself.

When Tarn booked in, she didn’t think much of it. While she was at lunch with her sister, she said, “I haven’t heard anything yet, so I assume it’s all fine”.

The next day Tarn got a call saying she must come in soon; her results are in, and she needs follow up testing.

Why does no one talk about HPV?

At the specialist, Tarn was shocked to learn they can sometimes see three women a day about abnormal cervical screening results caused by HPV, yet no one seems to talk about it. “This is why we need days like HPV Awareness Day this March”, says Tarn.

Tarn speaks proudly of her son who gets the message out there about HPV and cervical screening to all the women in his life. She says, “if my 17-year-old son can get the word out there about cervical screening and HPV, anyone can.”

“It is women and men’s responsibility to check in on all the women in their lives, their daughters, girlfriends, mothers-in-law, everyone, to ensure they are not overdue for their cervical screening test”

Tarn is happy talk to anyone about HPV and screening, saying “anything I can do to get the work out there and spread awareness.”

Preventing cervical cancer with HPV vaccines

“We didn’t have the HPV vaccine when I was at school. If I had, I probably never would have contracted HPV-18 which was leading to the development of cancer of my cervix”, says Tarn.

Tarn is grateful that this generation, including her children will get the HPV vaccine.

With this important vaccine, women and people with a cervix can protect themselves from cervical cancer with the HPV vaccine and routine Cervical Screening test every five years.

The free HPV vaccine is available for those aged 12 to 25 under the National Immunisation Program.

The National Cervical Screening Program recommends that women and people with a cervix aged 25-74 have a cervical screening test every five years -even if they have had the HPV vaccination.

Don’t delay, cervical screening is important. Book your cervical screening test today with your healthcare provider.

If you, or anyone you know has any questions about cervical screening, cancer, or our cancer support services, call Cancer Council on 13 11 20 or visit cancercouncil.com.au

/Public Release. View in full here.