Healthcare Disparities in the LGBTQ+ Community
The LGBTQ+ community is uniquely susceptible to disparities in the American healthcare system. Studies have shown that sexual and gender minorities have worse healthcare access and quality than their heterosexual counterparts. Many sexual and gender minorities have reported dissatisfaction with their healthcare providers. The dissatisfaction came especially with healthcare providers not taking the time to listen to the patient's problems and not showing respect for the patient themselves. Healthcare providers are often not trained in the unique needs of the LGBTQ+ community and often carry personal stigmas and internalized homophobia that prevents them from giving their patients the care that they deserve.
Members of the LGBTQ+ community often delay healthcare for fear of being stigmatized. Due to this and other stigmatizations in their daily lives, those in this community have a higher risk of anxiety and suicide. Because of the delay in their healthcare services, as well as issues not being treated as seriously from the start, they also have a higher risk of untreated heart issues and cancers. In order to prevent these disparities, healthcare providers must actively do better.
Individuals in the healthcare system have developed clinics specifically designed for the LGBTQ+ experience. In fact, Outcare health has compiled a list of LGBTQ+ clinics in all 50 states in the US (https://www.outcarehealth.org/resources/). In Portland, Oregon, PRISM health provides primary care, HIV prep and prevention, and mental health services with a specific focus toward the LGBTQ+ community. Their goal is to offer compassionate healthcare that is centered on the LGBTQ+ experience.
Though these clinics show a growing improvement in the issues for the LGBTQ+ community, it should be noted that most of these clinics are available in larger cities. Those in sexual minorities that reside in smaller towns and rural areas are still at risk of being stigmatized and unheard. Healthcare providers in any clinic should educate themselves on the unique issues of the LGBTQ+ community so that everyone in the American healthcare system can have the quality of care that they deserve.