Leeds, Grenville and Lanark Health Department is no longer offering swab tests

The Leeds, Grenville and Lanark District Health Unit (LGLDHU) says it is no longer offering smear tests at its sexual health clinics to focus more on services that prevent the spread of sexually transmitted infections (STIs).

The change took effect on Monday, the health unit announced last week.

It comes as some Canadian healthcare providers are moving away from Pap smears for cervical cancer screening in favor of testing for the human papillomavirus (HPV), which causes the vast majority of cervical cancer cases.

Ontario currently recommends that women aged 21 and over get a Pap test every three years if they are or have been sexually active, although provincial guidelines are currently being updated. Guidelines differ in other provinces.

According to Cancer Care Ontario, the provincial government’s chief cancer advisor, cervical cells can become abnormal if a person has an HPV infection.

LGDHU Medical Officer of Health Dr. Linna Li said local STD rates are rising and the health department needs to change.

“Because of that rise and also because our organizational capacity is just what it is, we are moving away from certain services to focus on others,” Li told CBC. Everything in one day on Monday.

Li said the health department’s sexual health clinics did not provide a large number of swab tests, and were never part of the health unit’s “core mandate.”

The tests are available elsewhere, such as from GPs and walk-in clinics, she added.

For example, the Ottawa Public Health website does not list Pap tests in its offerings, but tells visitors that their primary care physicians, nurses, walk-in clinics and university or college health services can offer Pap tests.

‘They are under pressure’

Dr. Lesley Spencer, a GP who focuses on women’s health, said she gets a fair number of referrals from walk-in clinics that don’t offer Pap smears.

She said she sympathizes with anyone who may not have a GP and now has one less option when it comes to getting a smear test.

Spencer also sympathized with the health department.

“It’s a lot of administrative work to make sure the tests are done regularly, the results have to be followed up and like anything else in healthcare they are under stress and pressure,” she says. said.

LGLDHU is funded primarily through provincial grants and while funding has increased, that increase has not kept pace with inflation, Li said.

“What that has led to is de facto erosion of resources,” she said.