CONTENT WARNING: This blog discusses rape and other forms of sexual violence.

Over recent years, the #MeToo movement has grown to bring sexual violence, abuse, and toxic behavior into awareness within American culture, but there is still much misinformation and stigma to combat to ensure the health and safety of everyone affected. Rape is the most under-reported crime with only 36% of rapes, 34% of attempted rapes, and 26% of sexual assaults reported to law enforcement. Despite misconceptions, the prevalence of false reporting is low — between 2-7%. The consequences of sexual assault reach far into the lives of survivors, families, and communities and have a major effect on public health.

Victims of sexual harassment and assault are often thought of as women, but men can also be affected. Statistically, one in five women and one in 67 men are raped at some point in their lives. Nearly 50% of women and 20% of men experience sexual violence other than rape.

LGBTQIA communities are disproportionately affected by sexual violence:

  • 44% of lesbians and 61% of bisexual women compared to 35% of heterosexual women;
  • 40% of gay men and 47% of bisexual men compared to 21% of heterosexual men;
  • 47% of transgender people are sexually assaulted at some point in their lives.

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Public health is “the science and art of preventing disease, prolonging life and promoting human health through organized efforts and informed choices of society, organizations, public and private, communities and individuals.” Analyzing the health of a population and the threats it faces is the basis for public health. Public health professionals work to prevent problems from happening or recurring through implementing educational programs, recommending policies, administering services, and conducting research. Public health also works to limit health disparities by promoting healthcare equity, quality, and accessibility. You can look at public health narrowed down to any population — from a neighborhood, country, or our entire planet.

Many factors affect public health, and people are unlikely to be able to directly control those factors. Social and economic environment, as well as physical environment, can be determine their quality

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Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex, and asexual (LGBTQIA) people are members of every community. They are diverse, come from all walks of life, include people of all races and ethnicities, all ages, all socioeconomic statuses, and from all parts of the country. The healthcare needs of LGBTQIA people are sometimes unique and often overlooked, contributing to health disparities experienced by vulnerable populations.

Experts report that LGBTQIA people often avoid seeking out medical care or refrain from “coming out” to their healthcare provider . This compromises an entire community of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex, and asexual people who are at increased risk for several health threats when compared to heterosexual or cisgender peer groups

  • Gay men are at higher risk of HIV and other sexually transmitted infections; 
  • Lesbians and bisexual women are less likely to get cancer screenings; 
  • Transgender people are among the least likely to have health insurance along with risks from hormone replacement and atypical cancers; 
  • Intersex people (people born with reproductive or sexual anatomy that doesn’t fit the binary definitions of female or male) often have trouble finding doctors familiar enough with their bodies to provide appropriate care, or even filling out forms/paperwork with only binary gender options
  • Asexual people (people with little-to-no sexual attraction towards others) commonly have aspects of their care neglected by providers

The Affordable Care Act (ACA) had helped over 10 million Americans gain insurance during the Obama administration, including many LGBTQIA people. The ACA

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Patient safety is about preventing and reducing harmful medical incidents that lead to adverse effects. Studies suggest that as many as 400,000 deaths occur in the United States each year as a result of errors or preventable harm. While not every case of harm results in death, they can cause a long-term impact on the patient’s physical health, emotional health, financial well-being, or family relationships. Preventable harm is expected to cost the U.S. and European healthcare systems $383.7 billion by 2022. The bulk of these costs are directly associated with additional medical expenses, followed by increased mortality rates and loss of productivity. When indirect costs are accounted for, the estimated economic impact skyrockets to nearly $1 trillion annually

The average cost of preventable harm is approximately $58,776 per injury. Medicare and other insurers usually don’t cover the cost of medical treatment related to adverse events and the remaining costs are typically

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Photo by Cody Pulliam

Social justice is the concept that all individuals deserve equal rights and opportunities — including the right to health. Inequities remain in healthcare that are avoidable, unnecessary, and unjust. These inequities are the result of established policies and practices that maintain an unequal concentration of money, power, resources, and perceived value within society among communities based on gender, age, race, ethnicity, religion, culture, country of origin, or disability. Racism, homophobia/transphobia, and misogyny are all insidious forms of bigotry that have long-reaching effects into healthcare.

The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed and exacerbated the inequities in American healthcare. Long-standing systemic health and social inequities have put many vulnerable people at increased risk of getting sick and dying from COVID-19. Patients of color are more likely to test positive and experience more severe health consequences from the novel coronavirus; more likely to be affected by conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, and cancer that increases their risk; and more likely to work jobs that risk exposure

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