As we reflect on LGBTQ+ Healthcare as we approach LGBTQ+ Health Awareness Week, we admit we (as well as other organizations in healthcare) are not always the best advocate to our fellow community members. At the end of the day, we know we want to celebrate and be there for all members of our community, so let's improve together!
Challenges Impacting Queer Health
While belonging to the LGBTQ+ community can be a source of strength, it also brings unique challenges.
It's important to recognize how one's experience of sexual orientation and gender identity relates to one's mental health. Whether it’s from experiences from coming out, rejection, trauma, or even from struggling with substance abuse, homelessness, or suicidal thoughts, these events, along with prejudice, harassment, and denial of rights, can lead to new or worsened mental health issues.
Another challenge is HIV and AIDS as the LGBTQ+ population is at a higher risk to transmit and acquire HIV from engaging in high-risk behaviors such as having sex without a condom or not using medicines to prevent or treat HIV.
For those living with HIV, Big Country AIDS Resources (BCAR) is a great resource in the Abilene-Taylor County area.
Some of the campaigns BCAR is working with is U=U, which emphasizes that if a person with HIV is non-detectable for the virus in their body, though they are not cured, they cannot transmit the virus, and Stand Up to Stigma, which advocates for people to stop stigmatizing individuals with HIV by utilizing these two programs the United Nations hopes to end the epidemic. Current HIV transmitting rates are in epidemic proportions, and if rates go below 5%, the epidemic will be declared over.
So as a community, how can we support those in the LGBTQ+ community if we’re not in the Queer community ourselves? Being aware, and educated is a great place to start.