Women with disabilities

All women with disabilities need to have Pap tests every two years between the ages of 18 and 70 if they have ever been sexually active.

A research study undertaken by the Australian Research Centre in Sex, Health and Society and commissioned by PapScreen Victoria identified the following main barriers women with disabilities encounter when having Pap tests:

  • Transport and access to buildings.
  • Availability of adjustable beds and hoists.
  • Some health professionals do not see women as sexually active adults because of their disability, and therefore think Pap tests are not necessary.
  • Some health professionals tend to the patient's disability needs as a priority, and have less emphasis on preventative health care (such as Pap tests).
  • Availability of accessible plain English information.
  • Living arrangements and reliance on carers.
  • For some women, the Pap test is quite painful due to their disability.
  • Pap tests and sexuality are closely linked for some women, and having a Pap test may remind them of a bad sexual experience, or of the sexual life they once had.

Information designed for women with disabilities is available in our resource centre and includes plain English, Braille and large print materials, and CDs.

Cancer Council Helpline