COVID-19: LGBTQ community kept in closet by public health officials

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04/26/2020

Everyone knows I’m queer. Except one group of colleagues. Ironically, they’re the ones from my own field — public health professionals. I work for the National LGBT Cancer Network, a CDC-funded, LGBTQ+ disparity network. I announce I am trans and bi whenever I host a training program for the Network. But while knowing one trans-bi person may be changing some hearts and minds, what public health officials are largely not doing is collecting health outcome data about the larger communities of LGBTQ+ people. What does that mean? We use tobacco at rates that are 50% higher than the general population, and ⅓ of all cancers are caused by tobacco use. But can I give you an overview of our disproportionate cancer impact as a result? No. Let’s switch to our current public health crisis, the COVID-19 pandemic. An estimated 2.3 million LGBTQ+ people are cigarette smokers. An early study out of China showed smokers were significantly more likely to be severely affected by COVID-19. Can I tell you how many more LGBTQ+ people are being severely affected by COVID-19? No.

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