Are LGBTQ people more at risk with COVID-19 and the issues surrounding it?
As a result of many LGBTQ individuals’ financial fare placing them in a lower economic class, the answer is yes. Because they live paycheck-to-paycheck, they are often at greater risk in the working world by being in direct contact with a larger contingent of the public.
But how does infection and potential recovery impact LGBTQ individuals after they have already contracted COVID-19? Several sources have claimed that COVID-19 affects people differently based on their ethnicity, race, or gender. But does sexual orientation or gender identity play a part in all of this?
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, that may just be the case.
The CDC has stated the health disparities members of the LGBTQ community experience as a result of social prejudice show they are more likely to suffer from depleted mental health, including suicidal thoughts, self-harm, eating disorders, and anxiety. If societal standards were not a factor for those who are LGBTQ, there would be less of an economic and educational divide between queer individuals and cisgender-heterosexual individuals.
These inequalities further exacerbate the stigma surrounding sexual encounters between members of the LGBTQ community, increasing the chances of contracting an STI or STD. Having pre-existing conditions such as HIV, HPV, or AIDS intensifies the symptoms of COVID-19.
Additionally, many in the LGBT community are less likely to have health insurance. As a result, they are also less inclined to seek out professional help when exhibiting COVID-19 symptoms. Inaccessibility to healthcare consequently signifies that LGBTQ individuals will theoretically have stronger and/or more dangerous reactions to COVID-19 and are more likely to spread the virus within groups of friends or workplaces. This chain reaction eventually makes its way to LGBTQ businesses, bars, and organizations.
But how does this knowledge help keep LGBTQ people safe?
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention is currently calling for further data collection from healthcare institutions. As vaccines are being doled out to specific groups of people, the CDC is striving to get help to those most at-risk first. Current questionnaires refer only to race, age, occupation, and medical history. Would it be a violation of rights if healthcare workers began asking patients their LGBTQ status? The consequences of this may be dire to closeted underage individuals or those who are in volatile work or home environments.
The CDC continues to state that further queries may prove useful to the scientific process as they continue working towards the eradication of the virus.
For now, North Carolina has yet to announce whether or not they will be collecting such information from COVID-19 patients.
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