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Study: LGBT Adults More Likely To Experience Adverse COVID-19 Effects

Published: Friday, February 12, 2021 - 10:45am
Updated: Monday, February 22, 2021 - 11:13am

A new study has found that adults who are gay, lesbian or bisexual are at greater risk than their heterosexual counterparts of contracting a more severe case of COVID-19. The study confirms what some LGBT advocates already knew. 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study found that gay, lesbian and bisexual people have higher rates of comorbidities, like diabetes or asthma, and that can lead to poor COVID-19 outcomes, including death. 

"I think the biggest factor that contributes to these comorbidities is the lack of access to culturally competent care services and supports, said Aaron Tax. He is the Director of Advocacy at SAGE, which works to improve the lives of older LGBTQ people who face an even higher risk.

"And this, unfortunately, is something that we've known about for some time, but I think what the epidemic has done is really shone a light on many of the issues that have plagued the LGBT older community," he said. "As I said, for many, many years, one of the issues that we think and talk about a lot is the lack of data with respect to the challenges that LGBT older folks face."

And the study echoed just that. It found that information about sexual orientation and gender identity is not standard in COVID-19 data collection systems… 

"We don't know how many LGBT folks have been infected nationwide, how many have been tested, how many been hospitalized, how many have died,"[and] how many have gotten better," said Tax. "And unfortunately, without the data, it's hard to create interventions."

Tax says they also don’t know if LGBT people are getting access to the vaccine at the same rate at their heterosexual counterparts. Some states like California have started collecting more information about sexual orientation and gender identity. 

Tax says three big hurdles facing this population, especially older LGBT people, is social isolation. LGBT people experience higher rates of poverty, particularly amongst lesbian couples. Tax said they experience twice the rate of poverty as their heterosexual counterparts; and a lack of access to culturally competent services and supports.

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