The LGF on Woman's Hour

Publish Date: 13/08/2013

On Friday 9 August The Lesbian & Gay Foundation appeared on BBC Woman's Hour, hosted by Jenni Murray, alongside Dr Helen Stokes-Lampard from The Royal College of GP's to discuss the issues around lesbian and bisexual women not accessing cervical screening tests. You can listen again here (starts at 29 minutes).

Research

Between 2010 and 2013,  in partnership with The University of Salford, The LGF 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.

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.

Online Toolkit for Professionals

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

The online training toolkit is the culmination of The Lesbian & Gay Foundation’s national ‘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. Check out the campaign at www.lgf.org.uk/screening 

Share your experiences!

We’re working on a strategy to ensure that lesbian and bisexual women get better healthcare and need your help! We have lots of facts and figures but it's the real life experiences we need to hear. Have you had a particularly good or bad experience with a doctor, hospital, nurse or other healthcare provider? Perhaps you feel that someone discriminated against you, or asked you inappropriate questions? We want to hear your story! All experiences will be kept anonymous. Have something to share or want to find out more? Email women@lgf.org.uk.