LGBTQ identification in the USA has increased 7.1%, reports a Gallup survey. Furthermore, among those who identify as LGBTQ, 21% of the respondents are Generation Z (i.e., adults born between 1997 and 2003). These statistics paint a positive picture of the acceptance of the LGBTQ community. However, when it comes to healthcare, the chasm of disparities is still perniciously wide. As highlighted in a 2017 literature review, LGBT youth get poor quality of care due to stigma, lack of awareness among healthcare providers, and insensitivity to the specific needs of this community. Here are a few most common health-related risks faced by them.

What Are The Six Health Problems Faced By LGBT Community?

  • Mental Health Conditions
    Studies indicate that transgender or gender non-conforming (TGNC) adolescents are more susceptible to depressive disorders and attention deficit disorders than non-TGNC youth. Besides, systemic oppression and structural deprivation make people from the LGBTQ community likelier to suffer from depression, anxiety, suicidal tendencies, and eating disorders. The lack of access to proper healthcare and the understandable fear and mistrust among LGBTQ members worsen their mental health conditions.

  • Sexually Transmitted Diseases
    Research demonstrates that LGBTQ youth are at a greater risk of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and human immunodeficiency virus (HIV).1 Their predisposition to social stigmatization, parental and societal rejection, and isolation contribute to their risky sexual behavior. Other than this, biological factors also make LGBTQ more prone to STDs. For example, men who have sex with men (MSM) are at a high risk of HIV transmission when they have unprotected anal sex. It is because the rectum has a thin lining, allowing HIV to get transmitted during anal sex easily.

  • Substance Abuse
    Data shows substance abuse is more widespread in LGBTQ+ groups than in the non-LGBTQ+ community. For example, smoking, alcohol consumption, tobacco abuse, and drug abuse have been higher in the LGBTQ+ section.

  • Eating Disorders and Obesity
    Research has underlined that bisexual and lesbian women are more vulnerable to weight gain or obesity than heterosexuals. However, straight men are more likely to be overweight or obese than gay men. Evidence also suggests that body image and eating-related disorders may be more prevalent among LGBTQ+ people than others. Stressors behind the development of eating disorders include body image issues, fear of rejection, bullying, harassment, and restricted access to quality and timely healthcare.

  • Heart Disease
    Gays, lesbians, and bisexuals are at a higher risk of heart disease and other cardiovascular problems than others. In addition, people from the LGBTQ community are more likely to smoke and have elevated blood sugar levels, contributing to heart disease.

  • Breast and Cervical Cancers
    Although more evidence is needed, the LGBTQ+ community is more likely to get breast and cervical cancers. This could be attributed to increased stress and substance abuse among lesbian and bisexual women. Besides, a lack of timely screenings may also cause higher cervical cancer rates among bisexual and lesbian women.

Why Does The LGBTQ Community Face These Health Issues?

The following are the causes of the physical and mental health issues faced by LGBTQ+ people.

  • The minority status and the stigma attached to the LGBTQ+ community.

  • Healthcare workers who are not well-trained to understand the unique needs of the community.

  • Limited clinical research on health-related issues of LGBTQ+.

  • Lack of comprehensive health benefits.

  • Discrimination, fear of coming out, and institutional bias in the health care system.

Quick Health Tips For LGBTQ

  • Manage stress by eating a nutritional diet and getting adequate sleep.

  • Take care of your emotional and mental well-being. Meditation, journaling, talking to friends and family, and finding a creative outlet may be helpful here.

  • Connect with support groups and organizations that support the LGBTQ+ community.

  • Seek therapy whenever required.

  • Limit smoking, alcohol consumption, binge eating, or other unhealthy patterns of eating.

LGBTQ+ are as much a part of society as cis-gender and straight people. Therefore, their healthcare needs are equally important and a requisite to a healthy society.

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