Updated: Oct 14
As COVID-19 continues to impact communities across the globe, everyone should be aware of the particular health risks the virus poses for LGBTQ+ communities. Last week, the group GLMA: Health Professionals Advancing LGBTQ Equality released an open letter outlining some of the health risks our communities face:
The LGBTQ+ population uses tobacco at rates that are 50% higher than the general population.
COVID-19 is a respiratory illness that has proven particularly harmful to smokers.
The LGBTQ+ population has higher rates of HIV and cancer, which means a greater number of us may have compromised immune systems, leaving us more vulnerable to COVID-19 infections.
LGBTQ+ people continue to experience discrimination, unwelcoming attitudes, and lack of understanding from providers and staff in many health care settings, and as a result, many are reluctant to seek medical care except in situations that feel urgent – and perhaps not even then.
While these risks apply across age groups, LGBTQ+ elders in particular face increased risks for the virus. COVID-19 carries a 15% mortality rate for older people, compared to roughly 2.3% for the general population. Combined with the risk factors listed from GLMA, COVID-19 proves especially dangerous for the nearly 3 million LGBTQ+ elders living in the United States.
With these increased health risks for LGBTQ+ individuals, organizations and individuals should implement practices to prevent COVID-19 from further spreading. Thankfully, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) has put together several resources illustrating those practices. Below we've listed the main points from their article "How to Protect Yourself."
Know how it spreads - The best way to prevent illness is to avoid being exposed to this virus.
Take steps to protect yourself - Wash your hands, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol, and avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
Avoid close contact with people who are sick - Put distance between yourself and other people if COVID-19 is spreading in your community.
Stay home if you are sick, except to get medical care.
Being aware of LGBTQ+ health risks and how COVID-19 impacts LGBTQ+ communities is the first step in keeping our communities safe. As we move forward, let's make sure to take steps to protect our community by preventing the spread of COVID-19.vailable, clean your hands with a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.
Wear a face mask if you are sick.
Clean AND disinfect frequently touched surfaces daily.
Being aware of LGBTQ+ health risks and how COVID-19 impacts LGBTQ+ communities is the first step in keeping our communities safe. As we move forward, let's makes sure to take steps to protect our community by preventing the spread of COVID-19.
"How to Protect Yourself," CDC
"Find a Provider," GLMA - a comprehensive directory of LGBTQ+ affirming healthcare providers in the United States
"Healthcare Equality Index," HRC - resource that lists healthcare providers throughout the United States ranked according to their LGBTQ+ inclusive policies