Owing to the social stigma surrounding the LGBT+community for centuries, they have become one of the worst-hit by the ongoing pandemic. Their physical and mental health is at stake.
What is the LGBT+ community?
The LGBT+ community encompasses people who come under the spectrum of sexuality. It is an initialism from lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender. Some even add ‘Q’ for queer and ‘I’ for intersex people. Hence overall can be represented as LGBTQI or LGTB+.
Impact on health.
Because fighting against Coronavirus requires good immunity, and this population has a majority of people affected with HIV, an autoimmune disease, they are highly susceptible to the virus. The Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says 69% of the newly detected HIV+ patients in 2018 in the U.S. belonged to the LGBT+ community. Pre-pandemic, the community could manage access to healthcare through various Non-governmental organisations (NGOs) that worked exclusively for the community. However, restrictions on travelling during lockdowns have caused them to suffer a lack of healthcare at times. Vast numbers of the community have been forced as sex workers and hence permitting more infections. Members are also on hormones. Due to the stress on the healthcare system, hormone interventions and gender-affirming surgeries have become strenuous to provide. Some LGBTQI people may be avoiding healthcare access as certain countries take urgent actions against the community.
Economic impact on the community.
The global pandemic has caused unusual challenges for this community. Data suggests that 1 of 5 LGBT+ community people live under the poverty line in the U.S. 22% of transgender people and 34% of transgender of colour have no health coverage hence have to undergo economic strains. Moreover, transgender women face worse economic conditions than transgender men. Transgender people are three times more unemployed than the general population. Many of the community, compelled to beg door to door or in public transport, have this as their only source of income. But due to the lockdown, this has stopped. Already low income, loss of income sources, living in overcrowded regions, homelessness, and so on shape conditions that lead to higher susceptibility of the community towards the virus.
Impact on the mental health of the community.
Society isn’t very inclusive and hence can hamper treatments. Deciding whether to shift the patients in the male or the female ward causes a delay in the treatment. Consequently, LGBTQI rights’ activists have been demanding separate units for them. During the strict lockdown, identities have to revealed at various places leading to inhuman comments and discrimination. Unable to access hormone interventions and gender-affirming surgeries, anxiety and depression are increasing among groups. Some subgroups among the community require specialised healthcare and are incapable of accessing them, spawning physical and mental stress. The governments must consider this and make special arrangements for them.
What can we do?
Since certain governments discriminate between the LGBT+ community, training border officials not to differentiate and permit entry to a country that offers them healthcare facilities as health is a universal right. Make policies for the migrant. Address the peculiar vulnerabilities and eradicating stigmatisation of groups. Insurances from the government for the community can reduce economic tensions in them considerably.
This article has been written by Ritu Katkar for The Paradigm
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