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June 2, 2022

June is Pride Month


  • Social isolation has a major impact in the mental health of older members of the LGBTQ+ community.
    • This social isolation along societal stigma, lack of family support (or similar support system), and discrimination of those that identify as LGBTQ+ can lead to depression.
    • Per the CDC, gay and bisexual men have a higher probability of having Major depression, Bipolar disorder, and Generalized anxiety disorder as compared to other men (Mental Health for Gay and Bisexual Men | CDC, 2016).
  • The LGBTQ+ community tend to have a higher rate of tobacco use as compared to their heterosexual counterparts.
    • According to the CDC, an estimated one in five lesbian, gay, and bisexual adult smokes cigarettes as compared to one in six heterosexual adults (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Persons and Tobacco Use, 2019).
    • This puts these individuals at a higher risk of tobacco related illnesses such as COPD, cancer, heart disease, and stroke.
  • In the US, gay, bisexual men, and men who have sex with other men at a higher risk of being diagnosed with HIV.
    • The CDC reports that gay and bisexual men had up 69% of all newly diagnosed HIV cases (HIV and Gay and Bisexual Men | HIV by Group | HIV/AIDS | CDC, 2020).
    • These men are also at a higher risk for contracting primary and secondary syphilis.
      • Per the CDC, in 2019, there were 38,992 cases of primary and secondary syphilis reported in the US, and out of those cases, 47% of them were diagnosed in men who had sex with men and men that had sex with women and men (STD Facts - Syphilis & MSM - CDC, 2021).
  • It is estimated that 10% of all new Hepatitis A and 20% of all new Hepatitis B infections in the US are diagnosed in gay and bisexual men (Viral Hepatitis Among Gay and Bisexual Men | CDC, 2016).
  • Challenges such as stigma and/or negative previous experiences by health care providers have prevented some from obtaining vaccinations and receiving early treatment.
  • High-risk behaviors such as IV drug abuse also have played a role in the increased number of cases.
  • For lesbian and bisexual women, factors such as fear of being discrimination due to sexual orientation, previous negative experiences with health care providers, and lack of adequate insurance have prevented some lesbian and bisexual women from obtaining routine well women screenings such as pap smears and mammograms.
    • This has led to an increased risk for cervical and breast cancers. Lesbian and bisexual women also tend to be more overweight and obese as compared to other women. (Understanding the Health Needs of LGBT People, 2016).

June has been designated Pride Month. Pride Month recognizes the LGBTQ+ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Non-Binary, and Queer) community through celebrations, marches, educational events, and similar outreach events. Pride Month is a great opportunity to promote awareness of the unique health issues that affect the LGBTQ+ community.

There are several steps you can take to promote the health of your LGBTQ+ beneficiaries.

  • Encourage your patients to schedule annual wellness visits and health screenings.
  • Evaluate your patients’ mental well-being during medical visits. Depression screening is a Medicare-covered benefit for your patients. Perform depression screenings as indicated and provide effective treatment and follow-up after depression screenings to promote optimal mental health and well-being in your patients.
  • Educate patients on healthy habits such as exercising and eating a well-balanced diet. If your patients are smokers or have a history of smoking, Medicare covers Counseling to Prevent Tobacco Use. Discuss this Medicare covered benefit with your patients and encourage them to enroll.
  • Talk to your patients about vaccinations (including Hepatitis B) and encourage them to schedule them if they are eligible.

To learn more about Medicare-covered services, visit CMS Preventive Services websiteExternal website




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