Cervical health is the focus of a new health campaign targeting all LGBTI people with a cervix in New South Wales, released today by health organisation ACON.

The Inner Circle aims to build awareness and increase participation in the new National Cervical Screening Program, targeting groups including queer cis women, trans men, and others who have a cervix.

President Dr Justin Koonin said that this work builds on ACON’s long history of developing targeted, effective health promotion campaigns.

“We have enormous experience with HIV-related health promotion work, and are proud to be able to apply this expertise in different health areas for people in our communities,” said Koonin.

Acting CEO of ACON Karen Price said the campaign responds to a crucial need to address cervical cancer risk and the lower screening rates among LGBTI people.

“We know that our communities rarely discuss cervical cancer or cervical screening with their peer networks,” said Price.

“We also know that within LGBTI communities in NSW, a diverse range of people need to understand how to take care of their cervix—and to feel empowered and comfortable to do so.

“Not participating in cervical screening is the biggest risk factor for cervical cancer. A 2014 survey found that 20 per cent of lesbian, bisexual and queer women in Sydney had never had a Pap test.

“People with trans experience face significant issues relating to cervical screening, such as trans men who report postponing or avoiding screening out of fear of discrimination and disrespect.”

The Inner Circle Campaign is funded through a grant from the Cancer Institute NSW.

“We hope that our support of ACON’s targeted and inclusive approach means that more people from LGBTI communities in NSW will make an appointment to have this test done,” said acting CEO Sarah McGill McGill.

ACON has also established a new weekly clinic in partnership with Family Planning NSW.

The new Check OUT Clinic will offer confidential sexual health and cervical screening services for LGBTI people, free (to Medicare card holders) or at low cost.

“The Inner Circle aims to celebrate and acknowledge diverse bodies, genders and sexualities within all of our LGBTI communities,” said Price.

“It is a call to action—talk to your inner circle and get involved in this important health program.”

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