LGBT Health Awareness Week

This week marks the 10th Annual National LGBT Health Awareness Week.  You may think “What does being Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual or Transgender have to do with my health?”  Well, as a matter of fact – a lot! 

  • There are higher rates of smoking, illicit drug usage and binge drinking among LGBT people
  • Eating disorders are more prevalent in gay and bisexual men compared to straight men
  • There are higher rates of stress disorders, addictions and suicide attempts by youth in the LGBT population
  • Rates of Intimate Partner Violence are equivalent to heterosexuals but the resources for help are less accessible, especially in rural and non-urban areas
  • STI (sexually transmitted infection) rates are much higher, especially in younger gay men and African American gay men
  • LGBT people are more likely to suffer verbal abuse by their peers
  • It can be more difficult to find health care providers willing to work with transgender patients

In addition to all of the above risk factors, many LGBT people find it hard to come out to their health care providers.  Some may still be seeing the same family doctor they grew up with – and that their parents still see! – and fear that the doctor may be judgmental of their sexuality.  Others find it hard to trust a new health care provider out of fear that they will be treated differently. 

Well, your health care provider should treat you differently!  Your sexuality is not the defining factor of your character, but it certainly is an important part of your health so you should share that information with your health care providers.   Ohio State has many resources available to help LGBT students live a healthy life.  

All of the health care providers at Student Health Services are sensitive to LGBT health issues and many have a specific interest in LGBT health. 

The Office of Student Life has a program called B.A.R.T. (Bias Assessment and Response Team), which allows students, staff, and faculty to anonymously or confidentially report incidences of abuse or crimes based on a bias against the victim. 

The Multicultural Center in the Office of Student Life also coordinates Open Doors, an anti-bias training program that works to address and eliminate bias at Ohio State.

Remember, everyone should get the best possible health care for the life they lead and that can’t happen if we don’t know the real you!

Alison Sauers
Student Health Services
The Ohio State University