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Groups warn about risks of coronavirus for LGBT+ community

Hundreds of health organisations have said in an open letter urging governments to act.

On March 11, LGBT National Cancer Network organized a letter signed by more than hundred local and national organization in US stating the following:

“LGBT+ communities are very familiar with the phenomena of stigma and epidemics. We want to urge people involved with the COVID-19 response to ensure that LGBT+ communities are adequately served during this outbreak”

The letter went on to highlight the three major risk factors which make LGBT+ community more vulnerable to COVID-19:

  1. The prevalence of smoking in the LGBT+ community

  2. Higher rates of HIV and cancer

  3. LGBT+ people are reluctant to seek medical treatment based upon social barriers


Since coronavirus is a respiratory disease, it has proven to be more harmful to smokers.

Data shows that:

  • 46% of the LGBT+ community is likely to smoke cigarettes than others.

  • 72% of the LGBT+ community in Britain either used to smoke or still smokes

Deputy Director for the National LGBT Cancer Network, Dr Scout, said:

“Our smoking rates alone make us extremely vulnerable and our access to care barriers only make a bad situation worse,”

HIV & Cancer

It was mentioned in the open letter that LGBTQ+ population has higher chance of HIV and cancer, “which means a greater number of us may have compromised immune systems, leaving us more vulnerable to COVID-19 infections.”

According to Reuters:

  • Based on 2018 government data, Gay and bisexual men account for more than two-thirds of U.S. HIV diagnoses

  • CDC data in 2017 found the percentage of trans people diagnosed with HIV was triple the national average.

Healthcare for LGBT+

With discrimination, sympathy and unfriendly attitudes within our society, many LGBT+ people are reluctant to seek for medical care when compare to straight people.

What should an LGBTQ+ person do?

Based upon the National LGBT Cancer Network, the faster you take steps to reduce your potential transmission of the virus, the more community members (and others) you will help. Steps include:

  • More vigilance about staying away from groups of people

  • Avoiding touching common surfaces, frequent hand-washing, avoiding or at least reducing the number of times you touch your face.

  • All smokers should know they can access free cessation services

Scott Nass, President of GLMA, an international organisation of health professionals advancing LGBT+ equality said:

“We call on public health officials to ensure the LGBTQ community is considered and included in the public health response to COVID-19 based on potential risk factors that exist in our community.”

A comprehensive report about how LGBTQ people may be impacted by the Coronavirus can be found here

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