fbpx
Skip to main content UVA Health logo of UVA Health
Healthy Balance

LGBTQ+ Health: Issues & Resources

LGBTQ health issues stem from stigma

If your sexual orientation or gender identity veers from the standard norms, you face very specific health risks and barriers to healthcare. Understanding the LGBTQ+ (also sometimes called LGBTQIA+ — read about these terms) health issues you face can help you care for and advocate for yourself. Or for someone you love.

LGBTQ+ Healthcare Issues

Being gay, trans, gender nonconforming, or nonbinary doesn’t just affect who you date or marry. Your identity can affect every aspect of your life. Stigma, bias, discrimination — obvious or subtle — shadow your experiences at school, work, place of worship, in public spaces, in court, and at the doctor’s office.

Over 50% of all LGBTQ+ people have experienced discrimination while visiting a healthcare provider. As a result, many people in the LGBTQ+ community:

  • Avoid seeking healthcare
  • Stay closeted with providers
  • Don’t advocate for themselves/feel vulnerable
  • Distrust providers’ knowledge about LGBTQ+ healthcare issues

These behaviors of not being open with a doctor or nurse can lead to misdiagnoses and overlooked symptoms. Plus, LGBTQ+ people tend to miss out on preventative screenings that can catch and treat cancers or other chronic or life-threatening diseases.

And so, it’s no surprise that national studies show:

  • LGBTQ+ youth attempt suicide 2 to 3 times more
  • More LGBTQ+ youth face homelessness
  • Lesbians get screened for cancer at a lower rate
  • Gay men, especially those of color, have a higher risk of HIV and other STDs
  • Lesbians and bisexual females have higher tendencies to be overweight or obese
  • Transgender individuals have a high prevalence of HIV/STDs, victimization, mental health issues, and suicide, and they’re less likely to have health insurance
  • Elderly LGBTQ+ individuals experience high levels of isolation and inclusive healthcare
  • LGBTQ+ populations have the highest rates of tobacco, alcohol, and drug use

The Growing LGBTQ+ Population

According to a 2021 Gallup poll, 7% of people in the U.S. identify as LGBTQ+. That percentage soars to 20% for Gen Z (born between 1991-2003).

More than ever, we need to address and reduce the stigma that damages LGBTQ+ health. All of us can play a role in this critical effort.

Resources to Get You Started

Being an ally for the LGBTQ+ community means learning, listening, and supporting with action. Show up, speak up, and stand up when needed.

Go to the doctor with your LGBTQ+ loved one. Even the most confident person can feel powerless in a clinic.

Check out and share with others:

Know your terms:

Celebrate:

Watch and read videos and articles on LGBTQ+ health:

Know where to seek transgender healthcare:

Subscribe for Updates

Get stories & health tips every week