New Zealand women would need a cervical smear test every five years instead of the current recommendation for three-yearly appointments, under a proposed change.
The Ministry of Health is seeking views on the change, which would make the HPV test the first test for women being screened for cervical cancer.
Current screening involves analysing cells from the cervix to detect changes that could indicate a higher risk of developing cancer.
Health Minister Dr Jonathan Coleman said the HPV test detects over 90 per cent of the human papillomavirus, which is the main cause of cervical cancers.
How smear tests are carried out would not change, but because an HPV test is more effective, the average number of screening visits in a women's lifetime would drop from 18 to 10.
Screening would be every five years, instead of every three years.
"The proposed changes would make the screening programme even more effective," Dr Coleman said.
"The protection offered by the HPV vaccination programme and the HPV test would ensure a smooth transition and manage any potential workforce changes."
Countries currently using HPV screening include Australia, the United Kingdom and the Netherlands.
More than 73 per cent of women aged between 20 and 69 have regular smear tests. About 160 New Zealand women develop cervical cancer each year.
Women who have regular cervical smear tests reduce their risk of developing cervical cancer by about 90 per cent.
New Zealand health authorities currently recommend that women have a cervical smear test every three years from the time they turn 20 until they turn 70.