Cervical Screening Awareness Week 10 -16 June

Publish Date: 08/06/2012


With Cervical Screening Awareness Week (CSAW) on 10 – 16 June, The Lesbian & Gay Foundation  (LGF) are highlighting the need for all lesbian and bisexual women to attend cervical screening.

CSAW, 10 – 16 June, is a UK wide initiative lead by Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust. The week aims to highlight the importance of cervical screening and how attending for regular screens 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 4,500 women’s lives each year.

The LGF launched it’s ‘Are You Ready For Your Screen Test?’ campaign in October 2010, funded by the NHS Cancer Screening Programmes. The campaign aims to dispel the myths around lesbian and bisexual (LB) women and cervical screening, raising awareness that LB women do need regular cervical screening tests.

Annie Emery, Head of Services for the LGF, comments; “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 campaign initially focussed on the North West of England but due to it’s success the LGF has received additional funding from the NHS Cancer Screening Programmes to roll it out nationally from April 2012.

Analysis of the 12 month North West campaign was undertaken by the University of Salford and findings from the 1,000 women surveyed included;

  • Only 49% of respondents of an eligible age (25-64) had been for a cervical screening test within NHS recommended time scales, rising to 73% post-campaign
  • 51% of respondents reported some form of positive behaviour change as a result of the campaign
  • 96% felt that the campaign was effective

Professor Juliette Patnick CBE, Director of The NHS Cancer Screening Programmes, highlights the need for the campaign; “Research carried out by De Montford University 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”.

The LGF are urging LB women to attend a cervical screening when invited and for those who are eligible but have not received an invitation, to contact their GP.

Annie Emery comments; “Making an appointment for a cervical screening test takes hardly any time at all, and the test itself takes just a few minutes – not long for something that could save your life.”

For more information on the LGF’s ‘Are You Ready For Your Screen Test?’ campaign visit lgbt.foundation/screening