Since 2003, the last week of March has been LGBT Health Awareness Week. We have gone over some of the barriers to healthcare for some of the transgender community in a previous blog post, but it remains important to bring awareness to the unique healthcare needs of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people and the health disparities that continue to beleaguer the lives of so many Americans.
A report by the Institute of Medicine found that fear of discrimination causes many LGBT people to avoid seeking out medical care. This compromises an entire community as lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender individuals 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 are less likely to get cancer screenings; transgender individuals are among the least likely to have health insurance. Even as youths, LGBT people are at higher risk of violence, depression, substance abuse, homelessness, and other suicide-related behaviors.