WOMEN are being encouraged to get tested for cervical cancer through a new form of screening called Visual Inspection with Acidic Acid (VIA).
Cervical Cancer Prevention Program project manager Karolina Tamani said unlike Pap smear screening that took weeks for results to be known, VIA was fast and efficient.
"It takes less than a minute for results to be known and treatment is conducted straight away," Mrs Tamani said.
Acidic acid, with only 4 per cent strength, similar to cooking vinegar which has a 5 per cent strength, is applied to the cervix. If the cervix turns from pink to white, it means the infection is present.
"Cervical cancer is caused by human papillomavirus (HPV) and it's transmitted sexually and men are carriers. As soon as women are sexually active, they are at a risk of getting cervical cancer."
She said once the screening was positive for HPV, the treatment was conducted.
This involves a probe, called the cryogun, which releases carbondioxide on the cervix which freezes it.
"Freezing kills the virus. There are no side effects to the treatment or screening and for those women that are worried about pain, the treatment is painless and will take less than five minutes."
Mrs Tamani said more women needed to come forward to get screened for HPV as the virus takes 15-20 years to develop full blown cervical cancer.
"We want to create awareness that screening is better than treating the cancer. Pap smear has been used for a while but it hasn't achieved the goal of reducing cervical cancer, which is why we introduced something that is accessible to Fiji, cheap and cost effective."
She said women could get screened by contacting the Fiji Nursing Association.
"Cervical cancer is preventable by educating community of safe sex. When we can detect the virus early, we can save lives."