Perceptions of cervical cancer and pap smear screening behavior by women's sexual orientation
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This study examined 330 adult females' perceptions and practices regarding cervical cancer by sexual orientation. Ninety-four percent of the respondents were unable to correctly identify all 5 risk factors associated with increased risk for cervical cancer (smoking, sexual intercourse with men, multiple male sexual partners, sexual intercourse before age 16, and having genital warts) regardless of sexual orientation. Furthermore, 20% were not able to identify any of the 5 risk factors for cervical cancer. Lesbians perceived themselves to be less susceptible to cervical cancer than heterosexuals or bisexuals even though 79% of lesbians had sexual intercourse with a male. Eight percent of the respondents believed that most women who develop cervical cancer die from the disease. The main barriers identified by non-regular Pap screeners (N = 127) were: no health insurance (33%), forgetting to get a pap test (32%), and not liking to get a Pap test (31%). Three-fourths (75%) have had a Pap test within the last 2 years and planned to continue having them on a regular basis. The results of this survey indicate that there is considerable room for improvement in knowledge, perceptions, and practices of all women, regardless of sexual orientation, regarding cervical cancer.
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