Lesbians and bisexual women are being told – incorrectly – that they do not need smear tests for cervical cancer.
According to research by the National LGB&T Partnership, 37 per cent of lesbians, bisexual women and other women who have sex with women have been told that they do not need to have regular cervical smear tests.
However, the human papilloma virus (HPV) which causes the majority of cervical cancers, can be passed through any form, of intimate contact – including sex between two women.
The report is part of the inaugural National Lesbian and Bisexual Women’s Health Week, which draws attention to the fact that “lesbian, bisexual and other women who have sex with women are experiencing a range of health inequalities and both face barriers to accessing health care and are having poor experiences when they do”.
The report also reveals that 21 per cent of bisexual women and 12 per cent of lesbians experience long term mental health problems, compared to 4 per cent of heterosexual women.
They were also more likely to drink more, with 29 per cent of lesbians and bisexual women binge drinking compared to 12 per cent of heterosexual women.
About 3,000 new cases of cervical cancer are diagnosed in the UK each year.