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LGBTQ Groups Warn They Are ‘Particularly Vulnerable’ To Coronavirus Due To Smoking, Cancer, Discrimination Rates

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Mary Margaret Olohan Social Issues Reporter
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More than 100 organizations joined LGBTQ groups in signing a letter to media and health officials that warns of increased coronavirus risks for LGBTQ people.

The letter urged media and health officials to recognize that LGBTQ populations are “particularly vulnerable to the negative health effects of this virus.” Their increased vulnerability stems from higher smoking rates, higher rates of HIV and cancer, and higher discrimination rates, they wrote.

“LGBTQ+ people continue to experience discrimination, unwelcoming attitudes, and lack of understanding from providers and staff in many health care settings, and as a result, many are reluctant to seek medical care except in situations that feel urgent – and perhaps not even then,” the letter stated. (RELATED: Sasse Calls On Senate To Cancel Recess, Work Against Coronavirus: ‘The Senate Has Work To Do’)

Initial signers include the National LGBT Cancer Network, GLMA: Health Professionals Advancing LGBTQ Equality, Whitman-Walker Health, SAGE, New York Transgender Advocacy Group and the National Queer Asian Pacific Islander Alliance. More than 100 other organizations joined in singing the letter.

The letter also emphasized that there are more than “3 million LGBTQ+ older people living in the United States,” and noted that elderly LGBTQ people are already less likely to reach out to health and aging providers than their “heterosexual and cisgender peers”  because “they fear discrimination and harassment.”

“The devastating impact of COVID-19 on older people – the current mortality rate is at 15% for this population – makes this a huge issue for the LGBTQ+ communities as well,” the letter stated.

“As the media and health communities are pushed into overdrive about COVID-19, we need to make sure the most vulnerable among us are not forgotten,” National LGBTQ Cancer Network deputy director Dr. Scout said in a statement, according to the Advocate. “Our smoking rates alone make us extremely vulnerable and our access to care barriers only make a bad situation worse. This letter outlines simple steps to ensure no population is further stigmatized by a virus.”

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