Cervical Screening Awareness Week 9 - 15 June: Toolkit Launched

Publish Date: 06/06/2013

Cervical Screening Awareness Week

Cervical Screening Awareness Week (CSAW) takes place 9 - 15th June and 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 a screening invitation can help to prevent cervical cancer.

The Lesbian & Gay Foundation, supported by NHS Cervical Screening Programmes, is marking Cervical Cancer Awareness Week 2013 with the launch of a new online training module which enables cervical screening practitioners to improve patient experience for lesbian and bisexual women.

Lesbian & Bisexual Women DO Need Screening

Between 2010 and 2013,  in partnership with The University of Salford, The Lesbian & Gay Foundation carried out research into the barriers experienced by lesbian and bisexual women attending cervical screening. They found that many women reported that they had been incorrectly told they didn’t need screening, and some had been refused a screen test, on the grounds of having only female partners.

Annie Emery, Head of Services for The Lesbian & Gay Foundation, said, “Research in 2009 found that the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV), responsible for 99% of cervical cancer cases, can be passed on through skin to skin contact, and therefore any woman who is of eligible age and sexually active, regardless of sexual orientation, needs to attend for regular cervical screens as the best protection against a cervical cancer diagnosis."

Many of the research participants also reported that nurses, doctors or other health care staff had asked inappropriate questions, or had assumed that they were heterosexual when asking questions. In fact 93% of respondents said that health care professionals needed more training on the health care needs of lesbian and bisexual women.

New Online Toolkit

This has led to The Lesbian & Gay Foundation delivering training directly to cervical screening professionals across the North West and to the development of the online toolkit. The aim is for practitioners across the country to update their knowledge, and offer the most appropriate service to lesbian and bisexual women.

The easy-to-follow session, which allows learners to test themselves at the end, takes less than 20 minutes to complete. It covers the reasons why lesbian and bisexual women need to attend screening, details incorrect information that women may have been told in the past, explains how to rephrase common questions to make them more inclusive and contains links to further information. It also highlights the real life experiences of some of the women who took part in the research.

The online training toolkit is the culmination of The Lesbian & Gay Foundation’s ‘Are You Ready For Your Screen Test?’ campaign, which successfully aimed to raise the rates at which lesbian and bisexual women aged between 25 and 64 accessed regular cervical screening. More information about the campaign and links to resources for lesbian and bisexual women can be found at www.lgf.org.uk/screening.

The free online toolkit is available from www.lgf.org.uk/screeningtoolkit