CDC says LGBTQ+ Americans have a higher risk of severe COVID-19 cases

Ventilator tubes are attached to a COVID-19 patient at Providence Holy Cross Medical Centre in the Mission Hills section of Los Angeles on November 19, 2020.. Jae C. Hong/AP Photo

LGBTQ+ Americans have been hit especially hard during the pandemic, as disproportionate rates of unemployment have left thousands without insurance or stable income.

According to a new report by the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, LGBTQ+ people also face a higher risk of developing severe cases of COVID-19 if they do get infected.

The report used data from the 2017-2019 Behavioural Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS), which collected information from 645,000 adults across the United States.

The results found adults who identified as gay, lesbian, or bisexual were more likely to report underlying conditions that make COVID-19 more dangerous than straight people.

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The report measured 11 conditions: asthma, cerebrovascular disease, cystic fibrosis, hypertension, immunocompromised state, neurologic conditions, thalassemia, obesity, smoking, diabetes, and cancer.

Across all racial and ethnic groups, queer people reported higher rates of these conditions than straight people.

However, it is important to acknowledge because of the self-reported nature of the study, it is difficult to quantify the frequency of a person smoking, the level of a person’s obesity, and how severe their asthma is.

Queer and trans people have less access to medical care, which could account for the high rates of underlying conditions

Prior to the pandemic, queer people in the US have had less access to healthcare than straight people because of medical and workplace discrimination.

A report by the Human Rights Campaign also found 17% of LGBTQ+ adults had no form of insurance prior to the pandemic. Without insurance, many queer adults have gone without necessary doctor’s appointments needed to keep conditions like asthma and hypertension from going unchecked.

The pandemic has only worsened these health disparities.

According to a report by Human Rights Campaign and PSB Research, 17% of LGBTQ+ adults were laid off during the pandemic. This has left thousands with no access to insurance or income to pay for medical care to treat underlying conditions that could make COVID-19 more dangerous.

“The responses to COVID-19 taken by the government, policymakers, and the private sector must actively consider the unique situations of LGBTQ+ people in their plans for addressing this crisis,” the Human Rights Campaign stated in a report about the state of LGBTQ+ people in the pandemic.