Globally, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex (LGBTI) people live at greater risk for a number of health problems, notably HIV/AIDS, nonconsensual surgery, and barriers to transitional healthcare. Many LGBTI people struggle to get by with little support from their families or communities. These people are also more likely to be homeless, to suffer from substance addiction, and to experience mental illness.
Local organizations in countries around the world provide much-needed HIV prevention services, as well as critical care and anti-retroviral drugs for people living with HIV and AIDS who would not be able to afford them otherwise. Still, for people who are HIV-positive, stigma and discrimination can be as devastating as the illness itself, often resulting in abandonment by family or friends, loss of work or property, denial of medical services, lack of care and support, and even violence. Many people avoid getting tested, disclosing their status, or accessing care and support because they fear discrimination. As a result, many people unknowingly live with HIV, or may be diagnosed at a later stage when HIV is harder to treat.
Stigma and discrimination against LGBTI people in general also prevents many from accessing vital services. Transgender people often put off visiting a doctor, even when they have serious health concerns, because they fear mistreatment. Intersex people are regularly subjected to unnecessary, nonconsensual surgery or hormonal intervention as infants, at puberty, or as adults. Even when health care providers are competent on LGBTI issues, many LGBTI people cannot afford the services they need to transition, to prevent or treat sexually transmitted infections, to care for disabilities, or even to receive the basic healthcare that everyone needs.
Many ground-level organizations are working to address the unique health needs of the LGBTI population. They strive to provide the special care and attention their patients need, including culturally competent treatment for substance abuse and mental illness. You can get involved and take action. Learn more about how you can support organizations that work to improve the health and well-being of LGBTI people around the world.