This week marks the annual National LGBT Health Awareness Week. When it comes to social justice and equality for the LGBT community, we are well versed in policy issues like marriage rights, bullying of LGBT children and adolescents, and workplace discrimination. It is not surprising that these three issues are foremost in our collective thoughts as the issues are extensively covered in gay and mainstream media outlets.
Yet there is another critical issue regarding social justice and equality that is often overlooked in our community: timely access to high-quality, competent and affirming health care. And, for our entire Whitman-Walker Health family, it serves as the strong foundation for our mission of caring for metro D.C.’s LGBT community.
Far too many LGBT people don’t get the comprehensive health care they deserve. Many health care practitioners may be unaware of LGBT health disparities, such as higher rates of smoking and an increased risk of certain types of cancer. Some health care professionals do not have open communication with their LGBT patients, and, sadly, some providers still harbor prejudices toward LGBT people. Luckily, there are several efforts underway to address these issues, such as more LGBT health education in medical schools. But, there is a way to improve your health care now.