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Closing the gap on health disparities in the LGBTQ community

Posted May 03, 2021 by Scott T Hamler, MD

Hands making a heart with a rainbow behind it

All of us rely on healthcare services at one time or another — and many of us take them for granted. But the sad truth is in today’s world, access to medical advice and treatment isn’t equal.

It is true LGBTQ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Questioning) individuals face health disparities in a number of ways. As a result, this community is at a higher risk for certain medical conditions, has less access to healthcare and experiences worse health outcomes than their heterosexual counterparts.

According to, health disparities among the LGBTQ community include:

  • They are two or three times more likely to have suicidal thoughts or attempt suicide.
  • They are more likely to have anxiety or mood disorders.
  • They are less likely to get preventative services for cancer, such as mammograms, Pap smears and rectal exams. Therefore, lesbians are at a higher risk of cervical cancer and gay men are at a higher risk for anal cancer.
  • Gay men are at a higher risk for HIV and other STDs, and the community has higher rates of HPV infection.
  • They are more likely to be overweight or obese, or suffer from eating disorders.
  • They have the highest rates of tobacco, alcohol and other drug use.
  • They are less likely to have health insurance and more likely to delay care. They also are more likely to be refused care.
  • By eliminating health disparities, LGBTQ individuals could increase their physical and mental well-being, leading to healthier, longer lives. Not to mention, it would reduce disease transmission and progression, as well as decrease healthcare costs.

    Why the health disparities?

    In the last decade, the LGBTQ community has made a lot of progress in securing equal rights, so why the health disparities?

    There are several reasons for the unequal access to healthcare for this community, including:

  • They are the minority.
  • There is a lack of specific education and training for healthcare workers.
  • There is less research on health-related issues specific to this community.
  • Health benefits are restrictive.
  • They have fear due to stigma, discrimination and institutional bias in healthcare.
  • Summa Health’s Pride Clinic

    When it comes to healthcare, LGBTQ patients face many barriers, including concerns about confidentiality, fear of discrimination and negative attitudes toward treatment.

    Because of this, it’s estimated that anywhere from 50 to 75 percent of the LGBTQ population does not share their gender identity, gender expression or sexual orientation with their healthcare provider, putting them at higher risk for health problems.

    That’s why Summa Health opened its Pride Clinic in 2019 to help close these gaps in health disparities and address the community’s unique health needs. The clinic offers high-quality, compassionate care for all patients regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity so they can achieve the highest level of health possible.

    Summa Health’s Pride Clinic offers the following services:

  • Pre- and post-exposure prophylaxis for HIV prevention
  • Transgender care including gender affirming hormone therapies
  • Family medicine including limited pediatrics/ Internal medicine
  • Women’s Health
  • We also offer assistance coordinating care to services such as:

  • Pediatric Specialties
  • OBGYN, reproductive endocrinology and infertility
  • HPV, anal dysplasia, cervical dysplasia, Behavioral health and psychology
  • HIV care
  • Urology
  • To learn more or to schedule an appointment with Summa Health’s Pride Clinic, call 234.867.7740 or visit


    Options to Request an Appointment

    If your situation is an emergency, call 911.