The Lesbian and Gay Foundation is urging lesbians and bisexual women to go for cervical smear tests.

The charity says some lesbian and bi women may not be aware they could be at risk of cervical cancer.

Traditionally, it was assumed that the HPV virus, one of the causes of cervical cancer, could only be transmitted through sexual contact with men and LB women were sometimes wrongly told they did not need screening.

However, research has found that it can be transmitted through sexual contact between women.

Around 80 per cent of lesbians are estimated to have slept with a man at least once and even if a woman has never slept with a man, her female sexual partners may have done.

Annie Emery, programmes manager at the LGF, said that all women between the ages of 25 and 64 should have cervical screening regularly.

She said: “Over the years, some lesbian and bisexual women accessing screening have experienced homophobia, assumptions that they are heterosexual, inappropriate treatment and, most damaging of all, misinformation about their health when it comes to cervical screening.

“Therefore it is crucial that LB women know that they do need cervical screening, and that they have the confidence to access services and get the kind of test that works for them.”