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The Health of LGBT People: New Report


The Institute of Medicine of the National Academies (U.S.) recently published a report entitled,‘ The Health of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) People: Building a Foundation for Better Understanding’. This 340 page resource identifed the challenges faces by LGBT people over the lifecourse.

In childhood and adolescence the comittee appointed noted the following:

  • In terms of  HIV, the burden falls disproportionately on young men who have sex with men, and most particularly on young black men.
  • LGB youth continue to be at increased risk of suicide ideation and attempted suicide as well increased risk for depression. Some small-scale studies suggest that a similar pattern exists for transgender youth.
  • Alcohol and tobacco use, and substance use may be higher among lesbian, gay and bisexual young people when compared with heterosexual young people. Little or no research is available on this phenomenon among transgender youth.
  • LGB youth are disproportionately represented in the figures for homeless youth. Research also indicates that young transgender women are significantly more likely to be homeless.
  • Reports of violence, victimization, and harassment are higher for LGBT youth when compared with heterosexual and ‘non-gender-variant’ young people.
  • Families and schools represent to two focal points for intervention research.

In early and middle adulthood the comittee noted the following:

  • LGBs experience more mood and anxiety disorders, greater levels of depression, and an elevated risk suicide and suicide ideation when compared with heterosexuals. Researchers, using small convenience samples, also found higher rates of suicide ideation and depression in transgender adults, but to date there is no information on mood or anxiety disorders.
  • Lesbians and bisexual women are less likely to use preventive health services than heterosexual women.
  • Lesbians and bisexual women may be at greater risk of obesity. They also have higher rates of breast cancer when compared to heterosexual women.
  • In terms of HIV/AIDS,  men who have sex with men are at a greater risk when compared to other groups, within this group,  black and Latino men are disproportionately represented.
  • LGBTs are frequently the victims of  stigma, discrimination, and violence directly as a result of their sexual- and gender-minority status.
  • LGB adults may be more likely to smoke, abuse alcohol, and engage in substance use when compared to heterosexual adults. Much of the research has focused on women and much less is known about gay and bisexual men. A few studies suggests that substance abuse is an issue within the transgender population.
  • Lesbians and gay men are less likely to be parents despite the fact that the children raised by same-sex parents are well adjusted and developmentally similar to children of heterosexual parents.

In later adulthood the comittee noted the following:

  • There is very little research but what there is suggests that transgender elders may experience negative health outcomes as a result of long-term hormone use.
  • HIV/AIDS impacts on older LGBT individuals, yet there are very few programs that target older adults.
  • Evidence suggests that LGBT elders exhibit crisis competence (a concept reflecting resilience and perceived hardiness).
  • LGBT elders also experience stigma, discrimination, and violence and have done so across the life course.

A pre-publication copy of the report can be obtained here for $49:46.

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