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Public Cervix Announcement

As more research reveals concerning health outcomes for lesbian, bisexual and queer (LBQ) identified women, it is encouraging that there is a shift in focus towards improving health for LBQ women from both mainstream and LGBTIQ health organisations. As part of Women’s Health Week (September 2 – 6) we thought we’d take you through one of our campaigns which was created to raise awareness around cervical screening.

LGBTIQ people with a cervix have been shown to under-screen when it comes to cervical cancer. In fact, research shows that 1 in 5 (20%) Victorians with a cervix, who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, same sex attracted, transgender, or who have an intersex variation, have never had a Pap test (the former method of cervical screening) – this can result in a greater risk of developing cervical cancer.

The reasons why these groups don’t screen as often as they should include people thinking they don’t need to screen, feeling embarrassed or frightened and fearing homophobia or transphobia. The fact is, all LGBTIQ people with a cervix between the ages of 25 and 74, need cervical screening every five years to reduce their risk of cervical cancer, no matter who they have had as a sexual partner.

Working with Cancer Council Victoria, Thorne Harbour Health created the ‘Public Cervix Announcement’ campaign. This campaign was created to raise awareness around cervical cancer and debunk some of the myths around who should be screened.

Postcard from Public Cervix Announcement campaign, featuring three people holding signs reading "Public Cervix Announcement"

As part of the campaign, a postcard, social media campaign and media relations campaign was developed featuring an older lesbian, a younger culturally diverse queer woman and a trans man. The campaign was launched in November 2018 during National Cervical Cancer Awareness Week and due to overwhelming interest in the campaign it will run again during this year’s National Cervical Cancer Awareness Week.

The campaign saw an increase of 7,843% to Cancer Council Victoria’s cervical screening website. This was well beyond our expectations and was evidence to us that not only was the campaign successful in its call to action, but also that we need to be doing much more in the space of cervical screening for LGBTIQ people with a cervix.

So, if you are an LGBTIQ person with a cervix and between the ages of 25 and 74, you need cervical screening every five years. Regular cervical screenings prevent nine out of 10 cervical cancers. They are necessary even if you have only had sex with women, haven't had sex in a long time, have had the HPV vaccine or identify as a man but have a cervix.

For more information visit: cervicalscreening.org.au/LGBTIQ

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