Cervical Cancer Prevention Week 20 – 26 January, is a European wide initiative led by European Cervical Cancer Associate (ECCA). The week focusses on all things cervical cancer including information about symptoms and causes of the disease and ways to prevent it.

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 5,000 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 lesbian and bisexual women accessing screening have experienced homophobia, assumptions that they are heterosexual, inappropriate treatment and most worryingly of all misinformation about their health when it comes to cervical screening.”

The campaign was initially launched in the North West of England, before going national in 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, comments; “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.”

The LGF will also be launching a survey for Cervical Cancer Prevention Week to explore the experiences and behaviour of lesbian and bisexual women towards cervical screening, along with opinions on the ‘Are You Ready For Your Screen Test?’ campaign. The survey will take 5-10 minutes to complete and respondents will have the chance to enter into a prize draw to win £100 worth of high street vouchers. The survey will go live on 20th January at www.lgf.org.uk/screeningsurvey

For more information on the LGF’s ‘Are You Ready For Your Screen Test?’ campaign visit www.lgf.org.uk/screening

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