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Posted on 13th March 2017

Lesbians often given the wrong advice for smear tests

Lesbian Gay Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) groups have said that women who have sex with women are often wrongly told they do not need a cervical screening test, otherwise known as a smear test.

The human papilloma virus (HPV) which is responsible for most cervical cancers, is passed though body fluids.

Oral sex, vaginal fluids on hands and fingers, or the sharing of sex toys can all be ways a person can be exposed to HPV.

The charity Jo's Cervical Cancer Trust says all women, regardless of their sexual orientation, should have regular cervical screening.

"As HPV can be transmitted through skin-to-skin contact in the genital area, gay women are equally at risk of contracting HPV and experiencing abnormal cervical changes and, thus, should always attend when invited for cervical screening."

LGBT groups say women regularly face barriers to accessing healthcare and often experience poor care. In a survey of lesbian, bisexual and other women who have sex with women, 36% said their doctor had assumed they were heterosexual.

The National LGBT Partnership say that women that have sex with women are more likely to report a long-term mental health problem and more likely to binge drink, than heterosexual women.

In a study of attitudes to cervical screening among gay and bisexual women in the north-west of England, carried out by the University of Salford in 2011, 37% of women questioned said they had been told they did not require a cervical screening test because of their sexual orientation.

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