HONESTY HAS ALWAYS been a central focus of this column. Over the past year and a half I have encouraged readers to be honest with themselves and their partners about their past, their needs and their desires. Open and meaningful conversations can foster trust and protect you and those you care about from many issues that could affect your mental and physical health. This month I want to encourage everyone to be honest with another important person in your life: Your doctor.
While coming out to your health care provider may seem like an incredibly daunting task, it is extremely important. LGBTQ individuals have unique health concerns that may be overlooked by a provider who is unaware of your sexual orientation or gender identity. Health care should be individualized and address a person as a whole. Without complete and accurate information it is impossible to provide the highest quality of care.
Still, many LGBTQ people do not feel comfortable coming out to their doctors due to a number of factors. The fears of judgment and confidentiality concerns are real things to consider. While not everyone is in an immediate position to switch their doctor, I would make that transition as soon as possible. If you truly feel that your physician lacks cultural competency or ethical standards, you should feel empowered to find a new doctor.
Others feel that their personal lives are just that: Personal. While I agree with this statement for the most part, when it comes to your health your personal life is a factor. Your sexual and social life plays a significant role in your overall well-being.
If you are looking for a doctor or health care provider who is LGBTQ friendly, there are a number of great resources. Locally, The LGBTQ Health Initiative at Columbus Public Health and Stonewall Columbus are two great places to start your search. Being open with your doctor or finding a physician who is accepting and knowledgeable of LGBTQ health care needs is the first step to a healthier you.
The initiative was created to address gaps in care and issues of health inequity within gender and sexually diverse communities. LGBTQ people face a vast range of significant health disparities worse than other groups. While some are a result of behavior, most are linked to social and institutional inequities resulting from homophobia and discrimination.
-Cultural Competency Training Program for health care professionals to create more safe places.
-Greater Columbus LGBTQ Health Coalition made up of health care providers, caregivers, community leaders, organizations
-Health Promotion and Prevention to promote healthy lifestyle choices with programs geared toward LGBTQ communities.
To learn more about HIV Testing and Counseling, testing in general or to schedule an appointment,
call 614.340-6720 or email JohnHenry@ARCOhio.org.