Giving Compass' Take:

• Junior doctor Carlos Acosta, from Colombia and Brazil, shares his own experiences of discrimination within health systems and calls for more inclusivity for LGBTQ+ communities, investment in research, and more mental health supports. 

• How can donors help with funding research and encourage evidence-based practices in healthcare that will benefit LGBTQ+ communities? 

• Read more about the health gaps for LGBTQ+ communities and how funders can help. 

From Brazil’s inclusion of HIV health care services in the 80s to the first representation of the LGBTQ+ population in its National Health Council in 2006, there have been some major advances made for LGBTQ+ health rights across the country and Latin America. But we still have such a long way to go.

It’s unacceptable that the community continues to be burdened by health inequalities and suffer prejudice, discrimination, and violence that compromises wellbeing.

Across Latin America, young gay men and transgender women are particuarly vulnerable. Recent research by the Regional Information Network on Violence against LGBTI People in Latin America and the Caribbean revealed at least 1,300 LGBT+ people have been murdered in the region in the past five years, with 90% of those deaths occurring in Colombia, Mexico, and Honduras.

As has been the case for decades, achieving inclusive health care has felt like an act of defiance rather than a guaranteed human right. Despite evidence indicating that the health vulnerabilities of LGBTQ+ patients are complex, I have experienced how stereotypes are intrinsic in our health models.

As leaders begin to build back after the coronavirus pandemic, it's critical they step up to increase awareness of the injustices we as a community face. We exist and we will resist.

The first step on this journey is acknowledging that most health care systems were built based on heterosexual views. From medical education to hospital resources, there was little to no representation of the LGBTQ+ community in decision-making on what LGBTQ+ health care should entail.

Secondly, there is an urgent need for the international community to invest in and scale-up research. COVID19 is highlighting how the higher prevalence of existing health challenges amongst the LGBTQ+ population, such as obesity and cancer, increases their vulnerability to respiratory illnesses.

Lastly, any conversations are incomplete without the inclusion of mental health. We know that anxiety, depression, and mood disorders are prevalent in the LGBTQ+ community. In particular, bisexual members and LGBT+ youth (who are more likely to be homeless) are at a higher risk of experiencing mental health challenges.

Read the full article about fighting for LGBTQ+ inclusive healthcare in Brazil by Carlos Acosta at Global Citizen.