Health4LGBTI is an EU-funded pilot project aimed at reducing health inequalities experienced by lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered and intersex (LGBTI) people.
The University of Brighton is part of the Consortium that, under a service contract with the European Commission, will explore the health needs and challenges faced by LGBTI people and analyse the key barriers faced by health professionals when providing care for LGBTI people.
There is substantial evidence demonstrating that LGBTI people experience significant health inequalities that have impact on their health outcomes. LGBTI people continue to experience stigma and discrimination combined with social isolation and limited understanding of their lives by others, leading to significant barriers in terms of accessing health and social care services. These experiences can translate into a risk of alcohol abuse, depression, suicide and self-harm, violence, substance misuse and HIV infection. Depression, anxiety, alcohol and substance misuse are at least 1.5 more common in LGBTI people, with lesbian and bisexual women at particular risk of alcohol abuse.
One of the most common issues for LGBTI people in accessing health and social care services is that many healthcare and other professionals commonly assume that LGBTI people’s health needs are the same as those of heterosexual people, unless their health needs are related to sexual health. LGBTI people have unique healthcare concerns which frequently go unacknowledged by service providers. A further significant barrier in accessing health services by LGBTI people concerns disclosure of identity, as many LGBTI people fear that if they disclose their sexual orientation or gender identity status to a healthcare worker they will experience discrimination and/or poorer treatment.
Whereas lots of attention has been paid to describing and measuring the problem of health inequalities within and across Europe, relatively little attention has been paid to how to most effectively reduce health inequalities in populations. Clearly, there is a need both at Member State and European levels to tackle the inequalities experienced by LGBTI people, as the right thing to do to support some of the most vulnerable populations within our societies, but also as a work towards the development of high quality health services across the Union that are equally accessible to all.