A world-leading screening test could be a game-changer for Port Augusta women in the fight against cervical cancer.
A new training program will be delivered in the coming weeks to local GPs, Nurses and Aboriginal Workers on the ground-breaking self-collection screening method.
Self-collection allows women to take their own vaginal sample for HPV testing, providing them access to life-saving cervical screening tests.
VCS Foundation Director of Medical Education and training facilitator Dr Lara Roeske said self-collection will significantly increase screening rates in Port Augusta and other regional, rural and remote communities across the state.
"There are many reasons women may not feel comfortable with traditional screening methods," Dr Roeske said.
"Self-collection is an alternative pathway to overcome barriers some women experience to having a traditional screening test.
"By providing access to a screening method that is not only private and dignified but simple, quick, safe and accurate, we hope to greatly improve these women's health outcomes."
While cervical cancer is recognised as a preventable disease, rates among Indigenous women remain incredibly high.
Currently, the cervical cancer mortality rate of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women is 3.9 times that of other groups.
Research has also shown at least 80 per cent of women who develop cervical cancer in Australia are not up to date with their screening or have never been screened.
Australia is the first country to endorse self-collection in its national screening guidelines.
"GPs, Nurses and Aboriginal Workers each play important roles in promoting and undertaking screening pathways and we anticipate that by advancing local care providers' knowledge and skills in early detection, we will greatly increase participation in cervical screening," Dr Roeske said.
"Additionally, a big focus of the training is on developing a culturally appropriate approach to consultations with indigenous, culturally and linguistically diverse and rural women."
The training in Port Augusta is part of a wider effort by VCS Foundation and SA Health to improve women's health outcomes, particularly in rural and remote communities and among women less likely to accept a traditional cervical screen.
Self-sampling is available to women at least 30-years-old who haven't had a Pap smear for four or more years, or who have never been screened and who decline a traditional screening test collected by a doctor or nurse.