• Open Access

Cervical smear participation and prevalence of sexually transmitted infections in women attending a community-controlled Indigenous health service in North Queensland


Dr K. S. Panaretto, Townsville Aboriginal and Islanders Health Services, PO Box 7534 GBC, Garbutt, Queensland 4814. Fax: (07) 4759 4055; e-mail: kpanaretto@taihs.net.au


Objective: To increase Pap smear participation and to assess the prevalence of sexually transmitted infection (STI) in urban Indigenous women in Townsville.

Design: Convenience sample of women attending Townsville Aboriginal and Islanders Health Services (TAIHS) for health care participating in the Trichomonas vaginalis (TV) project, coordinated by an Aboriginal Health Worker (AHW) trained in women's health and cervical screening.

Participants: 198 women, aged 20–69 years of age, attending TAIHS between March 2002 and 31 January 2004.

Main outcome measures: Pap smear participation and prevalence of STIs.

Results: Pap smear participation among eligible women at TAIHS increased from 20.9% pre TV project to 28.6% during the project and 35.6% in the 12 months post completion of the TV project (p<0.0001), an increase of 70.3%. Of 196 smears performed during the study, 20 (10.6%, 95% CI 6.2–15) were abnormal; abnormality was more common in non-Indigenous 8/50 (16.0%) than in Indigenous women 12/139 (8.6%), but did not reach significance (p=0.180). The prevalence of Chlamydia trachomatis was low, with no differences between the Indigenous and non-Indigenous groups, and highest in younger women: 6/44 (13.6%) in women less than 25 years; Trichomonas vaginalis was more common in the Indigenous group.

Conclusion: An AHW trained to perform and advocating for Pap smear participation has significantly increased the smear participation at TAIHS. The overall prevalence of STI was low.