Public Cervix Announcement
Drawing on a campaign developed by Cancer Council Victoria and Thorne Harbour Health, Women’s Centre for Health Matters and Meridian are raising awareness of the importance of regular cervical screening for everybody with a cervix. We are hoping to reignite conversations in our communities about the importance of looking after our bodies. We know that regular testing and prevention is the key to reducing the incidence of cervical and other cancers in our community.
Public Cervix Announcement is specifically targeted to members of our LGBTIQ+ community who can often be overlooked by cervical screening programs and initiatives. We know from local and national research that LGBTIQ+ people face a number of barriers in accessing inclusive and appropriate health services.
In 2018, Women’s Health Matters with the support of Meridian conducted research into the health needs and experiences of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and queer (LGBQ) women in the ACT. The report ‘This is what the real experience is like…’ identified that 20 percent of LGBQ women over the age of 25 do not participate in regular cervical screening. The report also highlighted the need for increased access to LGBTIQ+ inclusive and competent health care services including cervical cancer screening.
Cervical cancer is generally a preventable disease with a combination of HPV vaccination and cervical screening every 5 years.
The HPV infection is the most common sexually transmitted infection and is usually eliminated by the immune system within a year or two. However, when an infection persists, it can cause cellular changes that develop into precancerous lesions and, eventually, malignancies. Many cases of cervical cancer are caused by HPV infections.
“There is no reason why anyone with a cervix needs to be diagnosed with cervical cancer.”
TRANScending Discrimination in Health and Cancer Care highlighted that the emotionally traumatic impact of seeking a cervical screen as well as people not being comfortable with healthcare professionals were two key barriers preventing trans and gender diverse people participating in regular cervical screening.
There are some great resources available online to help you understand and navigate cervical screening. This includes step-by-step guides to screening processes as well as advice on preparing for an appointment. Check them out:
Information for LGBTIQ+ people
THE INNER CIRCLE
Your guide to cervical screening