The “Are You Ready For Your Screen Test?” campaign aimed to dispel the myths around lesbian and bisexual women and cervical screening, and raise awareness that lesbian and bisexual women do need regular cervical screening tests.
NEW ONLINE TRAINING TOOLKIT FOR CERVICAL SCREENING TAKERS LAUNCHED
As the culmination of the 'Are you ready for your screen test?' campaign, LGBT Foundation, supported by NHS Cervical Screening Programmes, has launched an online training toolkit which enables cervical screening practitioners to improve patient experience for lesbian and bisexual women.
The short module, which takes less than 20 minutes to complete, includes practical suggestions for improving practice alongside the firsthand experiences of lesbian and bisexual women and addresses some the the myths around cervical screening for women who have sex with women.
Access to the toolkit is free and all those who successfully complete the module receive a downloadable certificate. To access the toolkit please click here.
All women between the ages of 25 and 64 who have a cervix – including lesbian and bisexual women - need to go for regular cervical screening tests (formally called 'smear tests'). Trans men and nonbinary people who have cervixes should also attend regular screening, but may not receive invitations through the national screening programme.
To be invited for cervical screening you need to be registered with a GP, who needs to have your current address on file.
The NHS call and re-call system invites all women who are eligible for screening and registered with a GP. This system also keeps track of any follow-up investigation, and, if all is well, re-calls you for screening at the appropriate time for you - either three to five years (check the table below).
It is important that you ensure that your GP has any change of circumstance or address.
Watch our fun film spoof to find out why you need to go for cervical screening:
The age of invitation for cervical screening varies according to country. Please check the chart (below) for your region.
Eligibility for cervical screening in the UK
Women aged 25 to 49 invited every three years
Women aged 25 to 49 invited every three years
Women aged 20 to 60 invited every three years
Women aged 20 to 64 invited every three years
Women who are eligible and who have not previously had a cervical screening may be offered one when they attend their GP or family planning clinic on another matter. Women in England should receive their first invitation for routine screening by their 25th birthday, Women in Scotland by their 20th birthday etc.
Those who were assigned female at birth but are registered as male with their GP will not be included on the NHS screening recall system. However, if they have a cervix (usually this is if they have not had a hysterectomy or they have had a partial hysterectomy) they should also access cervical screening.
If you are eligible and have not received an invitation to attend for cervical screening then you should contact your GP.
The Human Papilloma Virus (HPV), which causes cervical cancer, can be passed on during sex. This includes sexual activity between two women.
The LGF’s campaign “Are You Ready For Your Screen Test?” raises awareness of cervical screening amongst women from the lesbian and bisexual community, encourage them to attend screening appointments, give them the confidence to use their rights, and provide advice to make it the best possible experience. The campaign is supported by the NHS Cancer Screening Programme.
Annie Emery, former Head of Services at LGBT Foundation said “Over the years, some lesbian and bisexual women accessing screening have experienced homophobia, assumptions that they are heterosexual, inappropriate treatment and, most damaging of all, misinformation about their health when it comes to cervical screening.”
“We want lesbian and bisexual women to be getting the best and most accurate health information to help them make informed decisions about their body and their health. We also want lesbian and bisexual women to know exactly what services are available to them. If a woman has been sexually active with a woman or a man she should be accessing cervical screening services.”
Professor Julietta Patnick CBE, Director of the NHS Cancer Screening Programmes said: “The NHS Cancer Screening Programmes welcome this campaign to encourage lesbian and bisexual women to accept screening invitations.”
“Most research including that carried out by Dr Julie Fish of De Montfort University found that there is a low level of awareness of the cervical cancer risks for lesbians, among both healthcare staff and lesbians themselves.
“Many incorrectly believe that lesbians are not at risk at all.
“A clearer understanding of the transmission routes of HPV (the virus that causes cervical cancer) is crucial in helping to encourage all eligible women to accept screening invitations. Cervical screening saves 4,500 women’s lives every year in England alone.”
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.
So don't be left in the dark, ring or visit your GP to book a cervical screening, or to check when your next one is due. For more information on cervical screening or to talk through what cervical screening involves contact LGBT Foundation on 0845 3 30 30 30, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.