The Lesbian and Gay Foundation (LGF) in north west England are highlighting the need for all lesbian and bisexual women to attend regular cervical screenings.
Cervical Screening Awareness Week (CSAW) from 10 to 16 June, is a UK wide scheme lead by Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust, the UK’s only dedicated cervical cancer charity.
In the UK, 20% of women still do not attend their cervical screening, so raising public awareness of cervical cancer prevention remains a priority.
Professor Julietta Patnick CBE, director of the National Health Service’s cancer screening programs, emphasizes the need for the campaign: ‘Research carried out by De Montford University [located in the east of England] found that there is a low level of awareness of the cervical cancer risks for lesbians both among healthcare staff and lesbians themselves. We have to change practice and perceptions.’
CSAW aims to highlight the importance of cervical screening and how by attending regular screenings, can help prevent cervical cancer.
The Human Papilloma Virus (HPV), which causes cervical cancer, can be passed on during sex with male or female partners.
Cervical screening saves 5,000 women’s lives each year.
The LGF launched the Are You Ready For Your Screen Test? campaign in October 2010. The campaign aims to dispel the myths around lesbian and bisexual women and cervical screening.
Annie Emery, head of services for LGF, said: ‘Over the years some LB women accessing screening have experienced homophobia, assumptions that they are heterosexual, inappropriate treatment and most importantly of all misinformation about their health when it comes to cervical screening.’
The LGF are urging lesbian and bisexual women to attend a cervical screening when invited and for those who are eligible but have not received an invitation, to contact their GP.
For more information on cervical cancer, please visit Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust’s official website.