Back in August 2010 The Lesbian & Gay Foundation (LGF) ran an awareness raising campaign across North West England to let lesbian and bisexual women know that they need to attend for regular cervical screening tests.
The success of this campaign was rigorously analysed by the University of Salford and the campaign was found to have almost halved the amount of under-screening across the region.
Due to this success, NHS Cancer Screening Programmes are now funding a national roll-out of the campaign across England – which is believed to be the first ever national campaign specifically targeted to lesbian and bisexual women.
The campaign challenges many myths that lesbian and bisexual women have been previously told about cervical health which suggested that lesbian and bisexual women do not need to go for cervical screening tests because they are not at risk of developing cervical cancer.
Research has found that the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV), which causes cervical cancer, can be passed on during sexual activity between two women.
The campaign aims to let lesbian and bisexual women know that they need to go for regular cervical screening tests; every three years if they are aged 25 – 49 and every five years if aged 50 – 64.
The NHS now advise that all women attend screening regardless of their sexual orientation and the campaign aims to communicate this new message.
Professor Julietta Patnick CBE, Director of the NHS Cervical Screening Programme comments:
“The biggest risk factor for cervical cancer is non-attendance for screening so we encourage all women aged 25 to 64, irrespective of their sexual orientation, to accept their invitations for cervical screening. Changing advice is not good enough. We have to change practice and perceptions”.
Annie Emery, Acting Director of Business Development at The LGF added: “We are delighted to be able to extend the innovative work undertaken last year, raising awareness within the lesbian and bisexual women’s community about the need to attend for regular cervical screening. The findings of the initial North West project highlight the overwhelming need for, and benefit of targeted campaigns like Are You Ready For Your Screen Test? being delivered on a wider geographical scale, thus ensuring that lesbian and bisexual women get appropriate information about their health and the services available to them.A cervical screening test takes minutes and saves lives”.
The campaign will be available across the nine regions of England from April 2nd 2012 and further promoted throughout Summer LGB&T Pride events
For further information please go to: www.lgf.org.uk/screening or Tel: 08453 30 30 30 or E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org