Publish date: 8 August 2023

For information: Learn more about the sexual health clinic for trans+ people held in the Yorkshire MESMAC office on the 3rd Monday of every month, from 4pm - 6pm.

The session includes STI testing, cervical smear tests, contraception, and Hep A, Hep B and HPV Vaccinations - All in a welcoming and trans+ inclusive space. Contact for more information.

A campaign launched by West Yorkshire and Harrogate Cancer Alliance in partnership with charity OUTpatients (formerly Live Through This) is helping to address the inequalities and misinformation around cervical screening within the LGBTIQ+ community.

The ‘Remove the Doubt’ campaign which ran in two phases from April to August, focused on the message ‘It’s your right to get screened’ and aimed to raise awareness of the signs and symptoms of cervical cancer and to increase uptake in cervical screening by the LGBTIQ+ community across West Yorkshire. 
The campaign has attracted both national and regional press interest including features in online newspaper PinkNews, BBC Radio Leeds and the Wakefield Express – as well as attracting more than 25,000 impressions on social media channels Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.
It culminated in attendance at Happy Valley Pride in Hebden Bridge to promote the importance of attending cervical screening.
‘Remove the Doubt’ is the latest in a series of specific campaigns and activities by West Yorkshire and Harrogate Cancer Alliance collaborating with partners, to increase the number of eligible people from minority communities who take up their invitation to attend for cervical screening.
People within the LGBTIQ+ community may be at a higher risk of cervical cancer due to lower screening rates.

The campaign was developed to bust many of the myths surrounding cervical screening within the LGBTIQ+ community. These myths were discussed within local community focus groups and included eligibility, whether invitations are sent out and if individuals will be treated appropriately.

The NHS-supported campaign looked to reach the following target audience:
•     LGBTIQ+ community between 25 and 64 years old (age range aligned to the cervical screening programme)
•     People who may be non-attenders to the cervical screening programme

The objectives were:

  • To empower LGBTIQ+ people with a cervix to access smear tests and have the confidence to expect equitable care
  • Increase in the following within the LGBTIQ+ community:
  • Earlier diagnosis of cervical cancer
  • Uptake of smear tests
  • Improved health outcomes and reduced health inequalities

Claire, a lesbian patient in her 60s, said: “I celebrate being part of the L in the LGBTIQ+ community. It is important for people to have comfortable and easy access to smears. 

“I was pleased to hear people can talk to their doctor or nurse regarding how the smear is completed; the size of the speculum; having someone with you and just trying to make an experience, which is not always good, a little less embarrassing or painful. 

“I feel this information should be given to everyone who has a cervix, and I am also passionate that the LGBTIQ+ community needs to share and spread the word. We are a significant percentage of the population and as the campaign says, we have a right to access the service.”

Stewart O’Callaghan, CEO and Founder of Live Through This, said: “It is so important to be able to deliver a cervical cancer campaign for the LGBTIQ+ community, by the LGBTIQ+ community. With research demonstrating that our community falls behind on screening uptake, it is clear we need to diversify the commonly seen cancer campaigns to include those who are facing additional barriers.
“Cervical screening saves lives, and it is important that we can convey this message to our community in a way that they want to receive it. That is why Remove the Doubt proudly features community members front and centre, sharing their own perspectives on screening and letting others know that if they can do it, you can too. I am grateful to these people who are the face of our campaign and applaud them for standing up to share the important message of screening with our community.”

The campaign supports national cancer policy guidance which places a requirement on Cancer Alliances to tackle health inequalities and support an increased uptake in the national cancer screening programmes for cervical, breast and bowel. The campaign ethos is not unique to West Yorkshire, it has been launched in other areas.

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