This Martin Luther King Day we’re reminded that minority groups continue to face challenges to their well-being. Recent Center for American Progress reports have shown the disparities that racial and ethnic minorities face in the economy and in their health outcomes. And a recent Center for American Progress memo shows that those disparities in health outcomes are exacerbated for people of color who also are lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender.
The following figures from the memo, and an accompanying memo on general LGBT health disparities, demonstrate the health disparities for lesbian, gay, and bisexual Americans of different racial and ethnic groups. It should be noted that transgender people of color often experience even worse health outcomes, but too few health surveys collect data on transgender individuals for us to make a comparison here.
64 percent: Percent of LGB Latino adults who have health insurance coverage compared to 77 percent of all LGB adults and 82 percent of the heterosexual adult population.
60 percent: Percent of LGB Latino adults who report alcohol abuse, compared to only 33 percent of the Latino heterosexual population.
35 percent: Percent of LGB African-American women who have had a mammogram in the past two years, compared to 57 percent of all LGB women and 62 percent of all heterosexual women.
30 percent: Percent of LGB African-American adults who are likely to delay or not get needed medication compared to 19 percent of African-American heterosexual adults.
29 percent: Percent of African-American transgender women who are diagnosed with HIV—a substantially higher rate than all other racial or ethnic groups.
26 percent: Percent of LGB Latino adults who don’t have a regular source for basic health care.
25 percent: Percent of LGB Asian or Pacific Islander adults who experience psychological distress, a rate more than four times higher than heterosexual Asians and Pacific Islanders and 2.5 times more than the general heterosexual population.
20 percent: Percent of LGB African-American adults who have diabetes, a rate 2.5 times higher than the rest of the African-American population and four times more than white LGB and heterosexual individuals.
To deal with these disparities CAP calls on the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to establish an Office of LGBT Health. This office would work closely with the Office of Minority Health and take the lead in coordinating a consistent and scientifically driven response across HHS to LGBT health disparities and overall health care for people in both these populations.
The office should first ensure that any federally funded health study that collects demographic information—on age, sex, race, ethnicity, primary language, or socioeconomic status—must also include questions about sexual orientation and gender identity. Analysis of this data should include a specific examination of the health outcomes and conditions of people based on sexual orientation, gender identity, race, and ethnicity.
To improve overall public health and to use public dollars most effectively and efficiently, the government must consider these factors when crafting public health programs and policies.
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