Why Is the LGBT Community Disproportionately Affected By Cancer?
Limited Access to Healthcare
Same-sex marriage was only made legal in the United States in 2015. Prior to that, many health insurance policies didn’t cover unmarried couples. Even after same-sex marriage was made legal, many couples had a difficult time obtaining health coverage for their partners.
Fear of Discrimination
Because they fear their sexual identity will affect the care they receive from healthcare providers, many LGBT people are uncomfortable disclosing their sexual orientation.
Poor Past Healthcare Experiences
If LGBT people have had negative experiences with healthcare providers in the past, they’re less likely to schedule regular doctor appointments or cancer screenings.
HIV and Cancer
Historically, people living with HIV/AIDS (PLWHA) have been at a higher risk for certain types of cancers, including:
- Lung cancer
- Anal cancer
- Liver cancer
- Colorectal cancer
- Testicular cancer
Today, roughly 25 percent of all AIDS deaths are due to non HIV-related causes. Cancer makes up a large part of that 25 percent. Since the introduction of antiretroviral medications in the mid-1990s, the life expectancy of HIV-positive people has dramatically improved. However, there has been a major increase in cancer diagnoses in PLWHA.
Coping with Cancer as an LGBT Person
If you’ve been diagnosed with cancer, know that you’re not alone. Above all else, know that you have the right to quality healthcare. As an LGBT person with cancer, you should:
- Be honest with your doctor and oncologist about your sexual identity
- Understand what your insurance will and will not cover
- Take care of yourself physically by staying active, getting plenty of rest, and eating well
- Take care of your mental health, as well, by joining a support group