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Breaking Down LGBTQ+ Health Barriers

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50 years of change

This June is the 50th anniversary of Pride Month! The first Pride march was held on June 28, 1970 in New York City one year after the Stonewall Uprising, which led to the modern movement for equal rights for the LGBTQ+ community. Since the start of the movement, there have been many wins, such as legalization of same-sex marriage and, most recently, the protection of sexual orientation/identity from discrimination in jobs.

Health disparities continue…

However,  health disparities continue to impact the health and well-being of the LGBTQ+ community. Healthy People 2020  and CDC lay out the health disparities that are still being faced today:

  • LGBTQA+ youth are 2-3 times more likely to attempt suicide
  • LGBTQA+ youth are more likely to be homeless
  • Lesbians are less likely to get preventive services for cancer
  • Gay men are at a higher chance of contracting HIV or STIs, especially among communities of color
  • Transgender individuals have a higher chance of getting HIV or STIs, victimization, mental health issues, and suicide
  • Transgender people are less likely to have health insurance
  • LGBTQA+ people have the highest rates of tobacco, alcohol, and other drug use
  • Adolescent lesbian and bisexual females are more likely to get pregnant compared to their straight peers
  • 44% of lesbian women experience intimate partner violence
  • 61% of bisexual women experience intimate partner violence
  • 26% of gay men experience intimate partner violence
  • 37% of bisexual men experience intimate partner violence

Reasons for continued health disparities

  • Low rates of health insurance or lack of coverage can make it a challenge to receive quality healthcare. About 1 in 5 LGBTQ+ (21.6%) in the U.S. experience poverty. Especially bisexual and transgender people have higher rates of poverty. As a result, poverty can impact access to health insurance or quality of coverage. In addition, LGBTQ+ individuals have higher rates of unmet medical needs due to cost and are less likely to have a regular healthcare provider.
  • Fear of discrimination can lead people to not talk to their healthcare provider to avoid affecting the care received. This may include their sexual orientation or identity and health behaviors. This can make it harder to have relationships with healthcare providers to give the best care possible.
  • Negative experiences with healthcare providers or fear of having a negative experience. For example, a healthcare provider refusing to use a person’s chosen name (or preferred pronoun) or lack of knowledge of how to provide appropriate care for LGBTQ+, This can lead to delaying or avoiding medical care. It can also include routine care such as early detection tests. Missing routine screening can lead to a disease being diagnosed at a later stage, when it is harder to treat.

Today, there are many LGBTQ+ friendly healthcare providers who provide judgement free and confidential care. To find a LGBTQ+ friendly healthcare provider near you, check out Keep Relationships Real.