Since recent years, LGBTQ+ individuals have been out from the closet and now are coming to the light. Multiple people are openly speaking about the community and helping through donations and NGO’s.
Moreso, there has been more in-depth research on the community. This is to help them in the long run. One of the many topics that are under research currently is the healthcare of the LGBTQ+ community.
In the LGBTQ+ community, there is stigmatization which can lead to varying types of chronic health issues. It is a known fact that a lot of the individuals who identify as LGBTQ+ have a higher risk of contracting AIDS. Therefore, a lot of time is spent on the research of AIDS to better help the community.
But the LGBTQ+ community also experiences higher rates of a multitude of health issues like breast and cervical cancer, hepatitis, substance abuse, depression and anxiety. Making matters worse, if you identify as LGBTQ+, chances are that you will face challenges in healthcare.
Stress and anxiety are extremely high in LGBTQ+ individuals. Many experts believe that this is in causation due to constant discrimination. These stressors can occur on a multitude of fronts, such as hearing about constant LGBTQ+ legal battles, workplace discrimination, snarky remarks or the like.
“There is minority stress,” says Gilbert Gonzales to Healthline. He is an assistant professor in the Department of Health Policy at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine. “And it’s above the everyday stress. There’s also a lot of variation within the LGBT community,” he continues.
Furthermore, a study also proves that lesbian, gay and bisexual adults tend to drink and smoke a lot more heavily than their heterosexual counterparts. Gonzales was one of those who co-authored the study. He describes smoking and drinking as a “coping mechanism” for dealing with discrimination. “It could be drowning feelings by self-medicating,” he says.
“Stress and anxiety are indeed in link to poor health outcomes,” explains Carrie Henning-Smith. Carrie is a research associate at the University of Minnesota School of Public Health and who also co-authored the study. “And we need to show concern about it,” she continues. “Homophobia is alive and well.”
As the federal government begins collecting more health data on sexual orientation, these disparities are finally coming to light, experts noted.
Bisexuals face the most danger:
A study found that women who identified as lesbians or bisexuals had a higher chance of being overweight. Around 2 times more likely compared to their heterosexual counterparts. “And being overweight is a big risk factor for chronic diseases,” says Gonzalez to Healthline.
Lesbian and bisexual women are also more likely to receive diagnoses with some cancers as well as higher rates of cardiovascular disease, according to the Kaiser Foundation report.
However, bisexual individuals are reportedly with the poorest overall health. They’re less likely to describe their health as excellent and show higher levels of distress. This particular group is also the least likely to be backed by insurance and also are avoided when getting medical care in the past year due to cost.
“Bisexuals do have the highest health risks,” says Henning-Smith, who passionately believes that all people should have a chance to have a healthy life. “One theory is that they’re a minority within a minority.”
Bisexuals often feel left out within the LGBTQ+ community. This is because they do not identify as entirely straight or entirely gay or lesbian. This makes them feel left out. More so, there are very few organizations who solely look out for bisexual individuals. Without the support and space to express, they often get into depression or feel a wide range of distress.
Gay men suffer too:
Gay men are not left clear from such issues. They too suffer from rather undiscussed health issues like eating disorders. This is usually caused by body image. According to studies, gay men are seven times more likely to report binging and 12 times more likely to report purging than heterosexual men.
Transgender individuals are also under affect. However, there is more in-depth research being conducted as to exactly what causes their stress, anxieties and depressions. Transgender college students are five times more likely to have an eating disorder than their peers.
And binge eating has serious side effects, such as cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, and diabetes. “Binging can also lead to social isolation,” says Dr Stephanie Setliff to Healthline. Stephanie is a medical director at the Eating Recovery Center in Dallas. She also says that feelings of shame and guilt slowly arise with time.