CDC Report Shows LGBTQ More at Risk From COVID-19

February 5, 2021 by Daniel Mollenkamp
A pharmacist draws saline while preparing a dose of Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine in Sacramento, Calif. (AP Photo/Noah Berger, Pool)

The Centers for Disease Control issued a report on Thursday that said LGBTQ people are more at risk of severe coronavirus than the general American population because of underlying health conditions and called for more data to be collected.

According to the CDC study, which is based on self-reported information, members of the LGBTQ community have a higher rate of diseases which are associated with an increased risk of severe cases of coronavirus, including health conditions such as asthma, and factors like higher rates of smoking. 

Persons of color in that community have an even higher risk, the report said, with high rates of health conditions like diabetes, hypertension, cancer, and obesity. 

Similar reports exist for other minorities categories, emphasizing that the risks of coronavirus are not evenly spread out in the population. A report from the end of last year by Stanford and Duke University researchers, for instance, explained that Blacks and Hispanics suffered about half of the deaths from coronavirus in the first six months of 2020. Studies, such as this one on Louisiana and this one on Georgia, have shown that minorities are more at risk for hospitalization.

Government studies on coronavirus do not currently include information about sexual orientation, an omission which this latest CDC report seeks to begin to address. The CDC’s report said that including sexual orientation and gender identity in coronavirus studies will improve scientific knowledge about why there are disparities in the rates of infection and in the outcomes of infections for this disease, which is important for combatting the impacts of the coronavirus.

That CDC report can be read here

A written comment from Human Rights Campaign, an LGBTQ advocacy group, said that it emphasizes what these communities knew already. 

The HRC had put out a report in March of 2020, which it says corroborates these latest CDC findings. That report found that LGBTQ adults smoke more than non-LGBTQ, have a higher rate of asthma, and have a high rate of diabetes above the age of fifty. It also found that 20% of LGBTQ adults do not have health coverage. 

A report published in JAMA on Wednesday affiliated with the University at Albany School of Public Health concluded that people diagnosed with HIV in New York were more likely to become diagnosed with coronavirus, become hospitalized for it, and to die from it than those who do not have an HIV diagnosis.

Other reports have suggested that these populations are more vulnerable economically as well. Resources put out by the HRC claim that even after early re-opening efforts LGBTQ people were 30% more likely than the general population to have lost their jobs and 50% more likely to have taken a pay cut. LGBTQ people of color were 150% more likely than the general population to have suffered a pay cut. The resources show roughly analogous figures for transgender people. 

Federal and state agencies have long failed to collect data which includes sexual orientation and gender identity, according to the HRC. 

“It is critical that health disparities in marginalized communities are fully captured by government data collection so they can be swiftly addressed,” president of the HRC, Alphonso David, said in a written statement. 

“The Trump administration failed to acknowledge the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on LGBTQ people. It is most welcome that the Biden administration is not politicizing our community’s health and instead is addressing the realities we are facing.”

David specifically highlighted the need for more research on the risks facing transgender people living with HIV.

The advocacy group has previously called on the Biden administration, in its “Blueprint for Positive Change” from November and in several letters, to adopt federal data collection practices that include gender and sexual orientation. 

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