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Older lesbians, gays have higher rates of chronic disease, mental distress, isolation
Date:3/29/2011

ng a population whose health needs are too often associated only with HIV and AIDS, the study offers the first insights about broader health conditions and trends.

Among the findings:

  • Gay and bisexual men have more chronic conditions

Gay and bisexual men experience higher rates of high blood pressure, diabetes, psychological distress, physical disability and poor self-rated health than their heterosexual counterparts.

  • Aging LGBs suffer greater psychological distress

Aging LGBs report symptoms of psychological distress significantly higher than their heterosexual counterparts (1.45 times higher for gay and bisexual men and 1.35 times higher for LGB women).

  • Even more affluent, educated LGBs may be uninsured

Only one in five aging LGBs is low-income, and 35 percent are highly educated (compared with 16.6 percent of the heterosexual population), yet aging LGBs have a statistically similar rate of being uninsured (8.1 percent versus 10.6 percent of heterosexuals).

Since chronic and life-threatening health conditions appear increasingly in individuals' early 50s, the authors studied the health of LGBs between the ages of 50 and 70 as a "first look" at the likely health profile of this coming generation of LGB elderly.

And the report's authors recommend that service providers prepare for this generation, both by providing services and resources that target LGBs and by increasing cultural competency and sensitivity among health care providers.

"Access may be equal, but we know that quality of care for LGBs often isn't," said Susan Cochran, a co-author of the study and a professor of epidemiology at the UCLA School of Public Health. "Attitudes are changing, but we still have to continue to push to eliminate discrimination and increase understanding of the rich and diverse life experiences of these individuals to improve the quality of the care they
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Contact: Nancy Brands Ward
nancybward@ucla.edu
310-794-6963
University of California - Los Angeles
Source:Eurekalert

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