LGBTQI+ and health care: do they deserve more attention from medical universities?

lgbti +

(Tanushree Rao, Unsplash)

This article was exclusively written for The European Sting by Ms. Elena Colonnello, a 5th year medical student in the International Medical School (IMS) of Rome Tor Vergata, Italy. She is affiliated to the International Federation of Medical Students Associations (IFMSA), cordial partner of The Sting. The opinions expressed in this piece belong strictly to the writer and do not necessarily reflect IFMSA’s view on the topic, nor The European Sting’s one.


LGBTQI+ is a common acronym across social media and television. However, a careful analysis of the literature reveals that little is known about this community, especially in terms of specific health demands. Nowadays, the pairing “LGBTQI+ and HIV” is obsolete, also at the light of recent epidemiological data which show that the LGBTQI+ community is, to a larger extent, aware of the exposure to this risk factor. However, if  thinking about the greater prevalence of HIV seropositivity is reductive and perhaps even prejudicial, it is true that the community is exposed to certain risk factors, which derive not from sexual orientation per se but from the resulting behaviors, sexually-related and not.

Epidemiological data show that there are other conditions prevalent in the LGBTQI+ community, but less explored. Among the most relevant, an increased incidence of depression and suicidal behavior, drug use, smoking, eating disorders.

Sadly, what it’s most surprising is that these conditions tend to assume a chronic course also due to the lower tendency of members of the LGBTQI+ community  to rely on health care  services. In light of these evidences, it is spontaneous for medical students to ask themselves about the factors that can constitute a barrier to health care and to the treatment of the specific needs of the LGBTQI+ population.

One factor may be explained by looking at the skills and knowledge of health professionals, often not adequately specific to offer culturally appropriate and high-quality assistance to the LGBTQI+ community. The key role in providing a higher-quality formation and sensitization to the topic should be played, first,  by Universities which, on the contrary, pay very little attention to the teaching of sexuality in general, psycho-sexology and medical sexology, and even less to the unique aspects of the health of the LGBTQI+ community.

In fact, there is a higher tendency to forget that, beyond 3rd generation drugs and advanced technology, communication between patient and healthcare worker is the real fulcrum of an effective therapy; a lack of empathy between patient and operator is significantly associated with a lower therapeutic efficacy, due to a decrease in adherence to the doctor’s prescriptions and to a reduced rate of compliance. In the case of LGBTQ+ people, this happens because many operators are not specifically trained to provide them assistance, nor they are aware of their specific health needs.

Nonetheless, a lack of knowledge is also often associated with a certain degree of homophobia and stigmatization, and the potential causal relationship between the two aspects is worth to be mentioned. Therefore, the natural consequence of asking ourselves if we are prepared to deliver dignified and non-discriminatory health care is to advocate the need for more attention from medical universities to this challenging and sensitive topic.

References

  • Conron KJ, Mimiaga MJ, Landers SJ. A Population-Based Study of Sexual Orientation Identity and Gender Differences in Adult Health.American Journal of Public Health. 2010;100(10):1953-1960. doi:10.2105/AJPH.2009.174169.
  • Institute of Medicine (US) Committee on Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Health Issues and Research Gaps and Opportunities. The Health of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender People: Building a Foundation for Better Understanding. Washington (DC): National Academies Press (US); 2011. Reviewers
  • Lambda Legal’s Survey on Discrimination Against LGBT People and People Living with HIV: When health care isn’t caring. Lambda Legal, 2010, available at http://www.lambdalegal.org/ health-care-report
  • Ciocca G, Niolu C, Déttore D, Antonelli P, Conte S, Tuziak B, Limoncin E, Mollaioli D, Carosa E, Gravina GL, Di Sante S, Di Lorenzo G, Fisher AD, Maggi M, Lenzi A, Siracusano A, Jannini EA. Cross-cultural and socio-demographic correlates of homophobic attitude among university students in three European countries. J Endocrinol Invest. 2017 Feb;40(2):227-233

About the author

Elena Colonnello is a 5th year medical student in the International Medical School (IMS) of Rome Tor Vergata, Italy. She is a member of the Tor Vergata district of IFMSA since three years, being actively involved in projects aimed to sensitization and public awareness of LGBTQI+ topics and public health issues. She proposed a project she is currently running in collaboration with a colleague of her and the Endocrinology and Medical Sexology team of her University: an observational study about knowledge and attitudes towards homosexuality among medical students and health professionals.

Advertising

the sting Milestone

Featured Stings

Can we feed everyone without unleashing disaster? Read on

These campaigners want to give a quarter of the UK back to nature

How to build a more resilient and inclusive global system

Stopping antimicrobial resistance would cost just USD 2 per person a year

70 years on, landmark UN human rights document as important as ever

Eurobarometer: Not a single answer about what the Banking Union will cost to citizens

AI-powered automation will have an ethnic bias

Canada has created an Arctic conservation zone almost as big as Germany

Future EU-UK Partnership: European Commission publishes draft legal text

Ukraine pays the price for lying between Russia and the EU

Bankruptcy or referendum: which one is going to be first?

EU Justice Scoreboard 2019: results show the continuing need to protect judicial independence

European Fund for Transition to support more workers made redundant

Africa is launching the world’s largest free trade area – but these are the stumbling blocks

Nearly a third of the globe is now on Facebook – chart of the day

Our global system has spun out of control. Here’s how to rebalance it

UN General Assembly celebrates 20 years of promoting a culture of peace

G20 World Exclusive Interview: “The world, especially emerging economies and developing countries, require a more sustainable and quality development”, the Spokesperson of Japan underscores live from Antalya Turkey

Regional competitiveness and growth: a Gordian knot for Europe

An economist explains why women are paid less

UN Member States overwhelmingly support end of US embargo against Cuba

LGBTQI+ and health care: do they deserve more attention from medical universities?

What little Cameron got in Brussels seems enough to keep Britain in the EU

G20 LIVE: “United States and Turkey stand in solidarity with France and its people in handing the perpetrators of this crime and bringing them to justice”, US President Barack Obama underlines from G20 in Antalya Turkey

Coronavirus: 5 ways to work from home with your kids (and stay sane)

Global climate change: consequences for human health in Brazilian cities

Courage of terrorism survivors underlines ‘urgency’ of UN Investigative Team’s work in Iraq

End fossil fuel subsidies, and stop using taxpayers’ money to destroy the world: Guterres

#Travelgoals: why Instagram is key to understanding millennial tourism

The rise of techno-nationalism – and the paradox at its core

EU-Turkey leaders’ meeting, 9 March 2020

Burundi: Inclusive dialogue ‘only viable option’ for resolving country’s political crisis says, UN envoy

45th Anniversary of the French Confederation (Confédération Nationale des Junior Entreprises)

Syrian civilians must be protected amid ISIL executions and airstrikes: Bachelet

Privacy is a human right, we need a GDPR for the world: Microsoft CEO

Multilateralism: The only path to address the world’s troubles, signals Guterres

Syria: UN health agency highlights ‘critical health threats’ facing Idlib civilians

China’s lead in the global solar race – at a glance

Sustainability, peace, security ‘best guarantee against instability’ Guterres to Security Council

OECD Donor countries need to reform development finance to meet 2030 pledge

Four in five adolescents failing to exercise for even 60 minutes a day, UN health agency warns

World Population Day: ‘A matter of human rights’ says UN

UNcomplicating the UN: a new podcast is born over coffee in New York

Commission Vice-President Rehn exaggerates Eurozone’s growth prospects

An expert explains: the digital risks facing our children during COVID-19

How will EU look after French, Dutch and German Elections and what will be the implications for Youth Entrepreneurship?

EU plans pan-European network of cybersecurity services

Thousands of Syrians in ‘life and death’ struggle amid harsh conditions in remote desert camp, UN warns

Tuesday’s Daily Brief: #GlobalGoals progress, essential meds, updates from Cox’s Bazar, Sudan and DR Congo

Lagarde: Keep feeding the banks cut down wages and food subsidies

Crime and drugs in West and Central Africa: Security Council highlights ‘new alarming trends’

Country origin ‘best predictor of outcome’ for children with cancer, UN experts say

‘Reaffirm the sanctity’ of religious sites, says Guterres, launching new plan to ‘counter hate and violence’

4 key steps towards a circular economy

Cameron postpones speech in Holland

How to help companies become global defenders of LGBTI rights

How COVID-19 could open the door for driverless deliveries

Migration crisis update: What are the chances of a fair deal at this EU Summit?

Boosting adult learning essential to help people adapt to future of work

Here’s how to make ‘value-based healthcare’ a reality

Action needed to end deadly clashes between African herders and farmers: UN chief

The IMF overstates the risks for Eurozone and downgrades the threats for the US economy

UN working with both sides, after hidden tunnels confirmed along Lebanon-Israel ‘Blue Line’

More Stings?

Advertising

Speak your Mind Here

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s