Lesbian and bisexual women are being incorrectly told they don’t need smear tests, LGBT charities say


Half of all eligible lesbian and bisexual women have never had a smear test, an LGBT partnership revealed
CREDIT: ALAMY

Women who have sex with women are often wrongly told they do not need
to attend cervical screening test, LGBT charities have warned.

omosessualiResearch highlighted by the National LGB&T Partnership – an alliance of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender charities – reveals that 37 per cent of women who have sex with women have been told they do not require a cervical screening test due to their sexual orientation.

This results in half of all eligible lesbian and bisexual women never having had a smear test, they said.

The human papilloma virus (HPV), which causes most cervical cancers, is passed on through intimate skin-to-skin contact, which includes sex between two women.

The partnership surveyed women on their experiences with sexual healthcare as part of the inaugural National Lesbian and Bisexual Women’s Health Week, which aims to highlight that “lesbian, bisexual and other women who have sex with women are experiencing a range of health inequalities and both face barriers to accessing healthcare and are having poor experiences when they do”.

“Lesbian, bisexual and other women who have sex with women (LBWSW) lack acknowledgement both in mainstream society and LGBT communities, and to the NHS we are largely invisible,” says Liberal Democrat peer Baroness Elizabeth Barker in the foreword of the report published in November.

“It is unacceptable that LBWSW continue to experience discrimination and that thoughtlessness compromises our healthcare.”

Other issues highlighted by the partnership’s report are that 21 per cent of bisexual women and 12 per cent of lesbian women reported a long-term mental health problem, compared with 4 per cent of heterosexual women, and that 29 per cent of lesbian and bisexual women report more binge drinking compared with 12 per cent in the general population of women.

Around 3,200 women are diagnosed with cervical cancer in the UK each year. About two out of every 100 cancers diagnosed in women (2 per cent) are cervical cancers, according to Cancer Research UK.

Article from: Telegraph.co.uk