The Health Impacts of Anti-LGBTQ+ Policies

Having accessible and affordable healthcare is something that every person should have a right to. But members of the LGBTQ+ community often face challenges when it comes to accessing healthcare.

For instance, there are many policies in the United States that target LGBTQ+ people. These policies impact the health and overall well-being of LGBTQ+ people. This includes LGBTQ+ people with HIV.

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How are LGBTQ+ people with HIV being impacted by these policies?

In order to prevent human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), there is a drug called pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP). PrEP is highly effective at preventing HIV. When taken correctly, it reduces the risk of getting HIV from sex about 99 percent of the time.1

Under the Affordable Care Act, insurance companies must offer PrEP for free. However, in March 2023, the case of Braidwood Management Inc. v. Becerra challenged that. In the case, US District Judge Reed O'Connor decided that covering the cost of PrEP is a violation of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.2,3

Because of the ruling, insurance companies would be able to charge for preventive services like PrEP. This means that fewer people would be able to access PrEP, which would lead to more people with HIV. In addition to PrEP, insurance companies would no longer cover the cost of:2,3

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  1. Programs that help you quit smoking
  2. Screenings for anxiety, high blood pressure, and hepatitis B and C

As of June 2023, the case is being appealed. The ultimate ruling will likely be decided by the Supreme Court.2,3

How do anti-LGBTQ+ policies impact health?

Braidwood Management Inc. v. Becerra is just one example of anti-LGBTQ+ policies. Unfortunately, there are many. As of June 2023, there were 491 anti-LGBTQ+ bills that were introduced in state legislatures since the beginning of the year. These policies put LGBTQ+ people at risk for discrimination, violence, and health problems.4

It creates more stigma and discrimination

LGBTQ+ people often face stigma and discrimination. This is especially true when they need health services. In a 2018 survey conducted by the Center for American Progress (CAP), LGBTQ+ people reported their doctors:5

  • Spoke to them using harsh language
  • Gave unwanted physical contact
  • Were clearly uncomfortable with their sexual orientation
  • Lacked understanding about their community
  • Refused to treat them
  • Intentionally misgendered them or used the wrong name
  • Were physically rough or abusive

Anti-LGBTQ+ policies can increase stigma and discrimination directed at members of the LGBTQ+ community. This can cause people to avoid or delay healthcare, which puts their health at risk.5

It makes it harder to access care

Anti-LGBTQ+ policies make it even more difficult for LGBTQ+ community members to access the healthcare they need. For example, in some states doctors are able to deny treatment based on their religious or personal beliefs. This means some doctors can deny care to people who are in the LGBTQ+ community.6

It leads to an increased risk for health problems

When access to healthcare is limited, it is harder for LGBTQ+ people to receive health services. This will ultimately lead to more health problems. And LGBTQ+ people are already more at risk for health problems like:7

  • Substance use disorders
  • Mental health conditions
  • Mood disorders
  • HIV and AIDS
  • Increased tobacco use

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Resources for the LGBTQ+ community

It is important to get the healthcare you need. Unfortunately there are obstacles that may make it difficult to do so. Here are some resources that can help you find health services that are accepting of people in the LGBTQ+ community:

  1. LGBTQ+ National Help Center
  2. OutCare Health Provider Directory
  3. GLMA Healthcare Directory
  4. LGBTQ+ health clinics by state and city from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention

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