COVID-19 & LGBTQ+ Communities: What You Can Do to Help

Updated: Oct 14, 2020

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:

  1. The LGBTQ+ population uses tobacco at rates that are 50% higher than the general population.

  2. COVID-19 is a respiratory illness that has proven particularly harmful to smokers.

  3. 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.

  4. 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.