'Freak out' | 

Muireann O’Connell urges women to get smear tests as she reveals HPV diagnosis

O’Connell shared her diagnosis on social media to plead with women not to abandon screening because of what is in the headlines.

Murieann O’Connell

Ellen O'Regan

Muireann O’Connell has revealed she has been diagnosed with the human papilloma virus that can lead to cervical cancer, urging other women to make sure they get screened.

“Who has HPV? I do!” the Six O’Clock Show presenter wrote in an Instagram post.

This week it emerged 180 women’s cervical smears had expired before they could be further tested by the State’s CervicalCheck programme due to capacity issues.

O’Connell shared her diagnosis on social media to plead with women not to abandon screening because of what is in the headlines.

“I know the story this morning about CervicalCheck letting 180 samples go out of date before they were sent on for cytology is infuriating,” the broadcaster said.

"It’s more than infuriating. Lives have literally been lost over issues at CervicalCheck. Of course you’re gonna be angry at hearing that there have been more massive mistakes made, but, I really hope it’s not gonna stop you from getting screened.”

O’Connell revealed that when she received the news she had HPV last month, she “had a little freak out”, but was relieved that it was caught early.

“Most people will get some form of HPV in their lifetime and nine out of 10 clear up within two years. Now I know I have it, my GP is on top of it and I’ll be checked again next year. If it develops into something else, it will have been caught early,” she said.

Despite her own positive experience with the screening service, O’Connell went on to say that more rigour is needed within the system.

The CervicalCheck scandal was revealed in 2018 when Vicky Phelan went public after settling her court case for €2.5million. It emerged hundreds of women had not been told that they had been given an incorrect smear test result and many went on to develop cervical cancer.

“Screening is there to help but more rigorous oversight is needed,” O’Connel said.

"As is accountability. Over 1,000 women have been lied to by the state in the cervical cancer scandal. It is disgusting and every single person deserves justice but please don’t let the failings turn you away from screening.

"My thoughts are with the women who are gonna receive the call during the week that they need to be retested. Even if everything is ok with every one of those samples and the HPV hasn’t developed into anything else, it’s just not good enough,” she said.

She concluded with a final call for women to avail of the service, regardless of issues.

“Yes, there are issues but we live in a country that has a screening programme. So many people don’t. Please use it,” she said.

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