Is LGBTQ health still an issue in 2015?

It’s 2015, and we’ve come a long way in terms of the respect and inclusion of LGBTQ people – both within healthcare, and in Canadian society. So it’s sometimes important to stop and ask ourselves, what do we still have to work on?

Despite strides in acceptance, research still shows disparities in the health of LGBTQ people – higher rates of smoking, lower rates of cancer screening (like mammography and Pap tests), and higher rates of anxiety and depression. There are also significant barriers to healthcare access: for instance, long wait times for transgender care.

There have also been a number of exciting breakthroughs in LGBTQ medicine, representing protective therapies that are not yet mainstream knowledge. These include the emergence of HIV pre-exposure prophylaxis, and the use of puberty blockers for transgender adolescents (which were validated by a recent study as safe, reversible, and beneficial). But until more doctors and patients are familiar with these treatments, they will remain under-utilized.

Lastly, there are still traces of outdated attitudes within healthcare – heterosexuality assumed as default, gay and bisexual men being seen as promiscuous, and trans people as being defined by their genitals or their chromosomes. Positive media representation is helping to shift these stereotypes, but having conversations about LGBTQ health also plays a part in making people more comfortable with these topics.

Thanks for being a part of the process to improve the health and wellness of LGBTQ people! We hope to see you at the conference.

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