Funding to implement the switch to HPV screening was allocated in Budget 2019. The introduction of primary HPV screening is in line with developments in cervical screening internationally. Ireland will be among the first countries in the world to make this transition. The HSE has been engaging with other countries who have already made the switch – the Netherlands, and Australia - or who are preparing to do so, to identify learnings for the project across a range of workstreams including reconfiguration of laboratories, procurement, ICT and colposcopy services.
The HSE has committed to introducing HPV primary screening in Quarter 1 2020. While false negatives will continue to be an inherent part of screening, the introduction of HPV primary screening can be expected to reduce the number of false negatives. Together with HPV immunisation for both boys and girls, which is now in place, and good uptake of both screening and vaccination, it is a key element in ensuring that cervical cancer becomes a rare disease in Ireland.