It’s your right: Lesbian and bisexual women urged to demand cancer tests for Cervical Screening Awareness Week

By Kim Richards

Lesbian and bisexual women across Greater Manchester are being urged to challenge prejudices that prevent them being screened for cervical cancer as part of Cervical Screening Awareness Week.

In a recent study with Salford University, the The Lesbian Gay Foundation revealed many LGBT women were told they did not need to attend a cervical screening, or even refused due to their sexuality.

And now the LGF has launched a ‘tool kit’ to improve treatments received by lesbian and bisexual women when attending screenings.

Annie Emery, head of services for the LGF, said any sexually active woman who is of eligible age, regardless of sexual orientation, should attend regular cervical screens to diagnose cancer at its earliest possible opportunity.

“We know from many of the women we spoke to that often lesbian or bisexual women are refused a test because they don’t sleep with men,” she said.

“Unfortunately, a number of the women we spoke to also told us that they’ve received homophobic attitudes or treatment when accessing screening. 

“Our campaign is all about informing women of their need to screen, and empowering them to challenge any negative attitudes.”

Through the launch, the Manchester-based charity wants to break down the barriers and hope to dispel the rumours surrounding screening tests.

And the tool kit follows the charity’s hugely successful ‘Are You Ready for Your Screen Test?’ campaign which helped to raise the rates of women aged 25-64 attending regular tests.

Cervical Screening Awareness Week began June 9 and is a UK-wide initiative lead by Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust, aiming to increase this number further.

Salford University, who are launching a sister campaign to attract all women, acknowledge the stigma surrounding tests can be especially prominent for lesbian and bisexual women.

Professor Ben Light, leading the University’s research, said: “Lesbian and Bisexual women face very specific challenges when it comes to cervical screening.

“This can have a dramatic impact upon their health and wellbeing, as myths are perpetuated regarding the lack of need for such women to go for such screening.

“That is why targeted campaigns which increase such womens’ awareness, knowledge and confidence around cervical screening are necessary.

“Lesbian and Bisexual women can very much be positioned as not needing screening because of assumptions made about their lives and sexuality.  

“Moreover, the stigma LGBT people face more generally can also play a part in their experiences of cervical screening.”

Full details of the campaign can be found at  

Picture courtesy of Kiera76, with thanks.

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