by Russell Etherton, Community Relations Manager, Legacy Community Health
This week is LGBT Health Awareness, which is celebrated around the country by organizations and groups, community advocates, and elected officials. The annual event is in its 14th year and is focusing its efforts on whole health and mind. Individuals within the LGBT community are disproportionally affected by mental health issues, and negative self-body image that can lead to eating disorders, and cultural competency concerns in the exam room especially with our transgender brothers and sisters.
Some of the big areas of concern:
- LGBT youth are two to three times more likely to attempt suicide.
- Gay men and members of the transgender community are at higher risk of HIV and other STIs, especially among communities of color.
- Lesbians and bisexual women are more likely to be overweight or obese.
- LGBT populations have the highest rates of tobacco, alcohol, and substance abuse.
So where do we go from here? First, we have to accept the reality that our perfect body lives in the conversations we have with our doctors about what’s best for our health. Embrace preventative care. Ask questions. As we say at Legacy, own your health.
Second, members of the LGBT community need to identify health care providers that make conscious efforts in fostering collaboration and expertise in the three big C’s: cultural competency, critical services, and community support. You want a doctor that understands the sensitive issues that any community faces. HIV treatment and prevention, trans care, PrEP; these are areas every doctor isn’t comfortable with treating.