Body Cancer LGBT

Cancer Risks Among Black LGBT Community

Written by Evans Kinyua

As we embrace February as National Cancer Prevention Month, it’s important to shed light on the prevalent cancer risks within the LGBT community. Black LGBTQ community faces the highest risk of contracting various cancer types due to their exposure to the anal sex and poor access to healthcare services. It is estimated that 3–12% of adults in the United States identify as LGBTQ. Of this population, around 5% are part of the Black LGBTQ community. Despite growing social acceptance, our community continues to face hindrances to healthcare such as the inability to afford or access health insurance coverage, fear of stigmatization by healthcare providers, and healthcare providers’ lack of knowledge about Black LGBTQ-specific health issues.  As members of the Black LGBTQ community, we are likely to face increased risks for some cancers compared to our white LGBTQ counterparts.  Our community faces seven cancer types that may disproportionately affect the Black LGBTQ population. The most common cancer types among the Black LGBTQ community include anal, breast, prostate, and cervical cancers.

Cancer and Gay Men

As we all know cancer doesn’t discriminate, impacting people across all walks of life. For gay men, specific cancers tend to be more prevalent. One notable type is anal cancer, especially among those who are HIV-positive. Anal cancer is prevalent among gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men for multiple reasons. The primary cause is the human papillomavirus (HPV), a sexually transmitted infection (STI). Men who have sex with men (MSM) in our community are at greater risk of HPV transmission due to anal sex practices. Besides, HIV-infected persons are more likely to develop anal cancer, and gay and bisexual men are more likely to be HIV-infected.   Regular screenings play a crucial role in early detection and management. Black LGBTQ men also face the risk of prostate cancer. Lifestyle choices and healthcare challenges are the main causes of prostate cancer among Black LGBTQ men. There is a need for regular check-ups and awareness to reduce the risk of prostate cancer among MSM.

Cancer and Lesbian Women

Lesbian women in the Black LGBTQ community also face similar cancer risks to men. The most common cancer types among lesbians and bisexuals in our community include breast cancer and cervical cancer. Breast cancer is likely to affect you if you are either a Black lesbian or a bisexual woman at a greater rate than if you were a heterosexual woman. Lesbian and bisexual women in our community commonly experience a variety of breast cancer risk factors, including reduced pregnancy rates, smoking, and obesity. Besides, Black lesbian and bisexual women are less likely to get mammography due to barriers to healthcare coverage and negative relationships with healthcare providers. Our community faces higher rates of cervical cancer due to the spread of the HPV virus among lesbian and bisexual women. STIs may be transmitted through sexual contact between women. Furthermore, many women who have sex with women (WSW) have had sexual contact with men in the past. Thus, it is likely for WSW to contract HPV, the leading cause of cervical cancer. Similarly, there may be lower rates of Papanicolaou (Pap) testing among WSWs because of the mistaken belief that they are not at risk for cervical cancer. Higher rates of cervical cancer among lesbian and bisexual women may be attributed to a misconception of HPV transmission resulting in the observed lower rates of Pap testing among the Black LGBTQ community.

Addressing Disparities in the Black LGBT Community

We need to recognize and address health challenges faced by the Black LGBT community. Issues such as disparities in healthcare access, cultural influences, and societal stigmas contribute to an increased risk of certain cancers for both men and women. To bridge these disparities, it is imperative to implement targeted and inclusive preventive measures. These include increasing the availability of LGBT-friendly healthcare services, promoting culturally sensitive health education programs, and actively addressing discrimination within healthcare systems. By acknowledging and addressing these factors, we can create a more equitable and supportive healthcare landscape for everyone.

Your Comfort Matters

Prevention is better than cure. Regular health check-ups are vital for early cancer detection and prevention. As a member of the Black LGBTQ community, it is important to seek out LGBT-friendly healthcare providers. Local Department of Health Clinics should maintain lists of LGBT-affirming doctors, ensuring individuals feel supported during their healthcare journey. The Black LGBTQ community should establish cancer care centers that target members of our community to reduce the disparity in access to healthcare services.

Encouraging LGBT Doctors

Choosing healthcare providers who understand and share your identity can enhance comfort. LGBT doctors bring a unique perspective, fostering open communication and trust. Opting for an LGBT-affirming healthcare professional can significantly impact your healthcare experience.

As we observe National Cancer Prevention Month, let’s be mindful of the diverse needs within the LGBT community, particularly among gays and lesbians. By understanding specific risks and challenges, we can collectively work towards a more inclusive and compassionate approach to cancer prevention. Your health matters, and with awareness and proactivity, we aim for a healthier, happier future.

Further Reading

About the author

Evans Kinyua

Evans is a writing enthusiast with a quench for knowledge and a flair for storytelling. He is a versatile writer who navigates various disciplines with ease. His expertise spans a wide spectrum, allowing him to delve into diverse subjects, ranging from history, science, technology, and business to arts, culture, psychology, and more. As a seasoned wordsmith, Evans excels in delivering captivating and informative articles that resonate with audiences across different fields.

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