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Does the LGBT Community Require Specialized Healthcare?

Jaclyn Hughes

Medical providers don’t really get a choice in how they wish to feel about patients that may be gay or otherwise; at work it should just be business as usual, right? Essentially, discriminating against a patient because of their sexual preference should be no different than a physician serving patients of all races and shapes, no? One would think in 2015 this wouldn’t even be something worth discussing, but there are surprisingly a large number of LGBT folks that either shy away from needed medical treatments, or simply don’t advise their doctors of their sexual orientation merely out of fear.

No one enjoys that feeling of not fitting in, or feeling as if you are going to be treated differently if you are honest with others. It’s a sad thought that so many LGBT adults are not disclosing that piece of their lifestyle to anyone in the medical field. Is it even important you may be thinking? Why does your doctor need to know who you choose to be in relationships with? They don’t, but they do need to know if you’re a same sex or multiple partner dating individual because there are several ailments that are specific to one’s sexual orientation that are not as commonly diagnosed for heterosexual folks. Certain cancers for example are more common in female same sex partner relationships than they are in straight ones. That alone should be enough to desire having an honest relationship with your medical team.

Thousands of adults delay important health screenings each year due to their fear of stigma according to Barbra Warren, who is a coveted expert on the subject. Her valid concerns are that patients are sacrificing their own wellbeing over aiming for a trusting partnership with their healthcare providers. She feels that this issue is twofold, that not only do patients need to be upfront, but that providers also need to be well trained on the various health conditions that can affect the LBGT community.

The LGBT Cancer Network is a huge advocate for educating medical providers to remain compassionate, fair, and do their part as physicians to be better in tune with their patients. According to the CDC, last year roughly 2% of the general population has identified themselves as gay or lesbian, while 1% reported they were bisexual. Even though that number may sound small, it’s actually quite a large group of people and to think there’s probably more than twice that percentage that don’t claim their sexuality in a public manner.

Some health concerns that commonly effect the LGBT community to consider are:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Eating Disorders
  • Substance Abuse
  • Female Cancers

This is not to assume there is any correlation with LGBT folks and mental illness, as a matter of fact the majority of patients suffering from the above listed ailments are doing so because they maintain their sexuality as a secret living in fear each day. Obamacare has helped in some fashion by enabling healthcare for all, no longer only permitting heterosexual married couples to use one another’s health insurance policies is now not an issue in lieu of Obama’s plan. There’s still a long way to go for the world to have total acceptance, and perhaps that may never come to fruition. For today though, understanding that medical care is crucial regardless of who you choose to go home to at night is starting to change, and that’s a good thing for all involved.

Less sick people, less folks on prescription meds, less depression around, and being able to go to your doctor in an honest manner is a lot less terrifying for the LGBT community.

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