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Radio personalities Dano and Mason, from Joy 94.9, appearing in a PapScreen Victoria campaign video.

Providers urged to help in cervical screening push for LGBTIQ people

No matter your sexuality or gender identity, if you have a cervix then you’re at risk of cervical cancer.

This is the key message of a new PapScreen Victoria campaign aimed at lesbian, gay, bisexual, same-sex attracted and transgender people, and those who have an intersex variation (LGBTIQ). The body also hopes health providers will help by supporting sexually and gender diverse people to participate in cervical screening.

In a survey of 303 Victorians with a cervix who identify as LGBTIQ or gender diverse, commissioned by PapScreen Victoria and conducted by La Trobe University, 1 in 5 respondents indicated they had never had a pap test.

The top two reasons were that they were embarrassed or frightened and that they felt they didn’t need one.

The research has informed an education campaign for health providers about gender diversity, intersex variations and sexual practices to provide a more sensitive service.

Hiranthi Perera, a spokesperson for PapScreen Victoria, said the campaign will empower LGBTIQ people with a cervix to participate in cervical screening and know what to do if they feel judged, discriminated against or uncomfortable with their service provider.

Perera said: “When the LGBTIQ community feels unsafe or unsupported in the health system, they are left to navigate it on their own, so it’s really important for healthcare providers to convey sensitivity and understanding with these patients.”

PapScreen Victoria also released its top tips for health providers to ensure an inclusive practice. They included:

  • During consultations, use culturally aware language. For example, use a gender-neutral word for partner until the gender of partner is disclosed and use the word the person uses for their sexual orientation.
  • Offer staff LGBTIQ-specific training, especially with regard to confidentiality and social context of LGBTIQ experience.
  • Recognise that a person’s sexual orientation can change over time and sexual identity may not correlate with sexual attraction or behaviour.
  • Assure confidentiality regarding sexual orientation.

PapScreen Victoria's guide for health professionals is available here. Click below to view a video from the body's campaign.

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