LONDON — Lesbian and bi women are urged to get tested for the human papillomavirus (HPV) because of its connection to cervical cancer, health experts are saying to mark Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust’s Cervical Screening Awareness Week this week.
An article in Gay Star News, a UK-based LGBT news agency, said any woman with an intact cervix who is sexually active (gay or straight) should have regular cervical screenings. The HPV virus is spread through skin-to-skin contact.
There are particular problems with lesbian and bi women accessing cervical screening, the article said.
Stonewall Research, which polled about 6,000 lesbian and bisexual women, found they were often excluded from routine testing for cervical cancer. The Stonewall survey also these women were reluctant to be honest about their sexual orientation with health care professionals as they feared stigma and discrimination.
Research by the Lesbian and Gay Foundation, carried out with the University of Salford between 2010 and 2013, looked at the barriers experienced by lesbian and bi women attending cervical screening. Many women said they had been wrongly advised they did not need screening and some had even been refused screening as they only had female partners. Women respondents also said health care professionals had asked inappropriate questions or had wrongly assumed they were straight, Gay Star News reported.
Almost all the women (93 percent) said health care professionals needed more training on the needs of lesbian and bi women.