NHS England is warning that the misconception that lesbian, gay and bisexual (LGB) women are not at risk of cervical cancer is putting 50,000 LGB women at risk.
The ‘fake news’ has created a dangerous screening gap, as the affected women have never been for a cervical cancer screening test because they wrongly think they are not at risk.
Analysis of data from the LGBT Foundation has revealed that nearly one in five – 19% – of LGB women who are eligible for cervical screening has never been to an appointment.
The NHS reminds the public that any sexual activity can pass on the virus which causes the vast majority of cervical cancers, NHS national advisor for LGBT health Dr Brady warned.
Speaking at the Royal Society of Medicine’s ‘Pride in Medicine’ event, Brady explained that the figures are “a major concern”, and urged everyone who is eligible to come forward and get screened.
He continued, “Pride Week is an opportunity to give a platform to the issues facing LGBT people, and little is more important than ensuring everyone has the information and services they need to stay healthy and avoid major illness.
“The misleading information that gay and bisexual women aren’t at risk of this disease is one of the most dangerous myths around, because it has created a screening gap for thousands, which is a major concern for our community.
“Let’s be clear: cancer does not discriminate. If you’ve got a cervix, you can get cervical cancer, and as cervical cancer is preventable people should take up their regular screening appointments.
“We also know that NHS screening services need to be inclusive of lesbian, gay, bisexual trans and non-binary people, and I’m delighted to have been asked to help the NHS address these issues and more.”
Charities have previously warned of the common misconception that women who have sex with women do not need to be screened, even though the virus that causes cervical cancer is passed on through any type of sexual activity.
An estimated four out of five cases of cervical cancer, 83%, could be prevented if everyone attended regular screenings.