Belief of Reduced STD Risk Keeps Lesbians from Seeking Gynecological Health Care
National surveys show that many lesbians are not accessing routine gynecological health care because they "falsely" believe they are not at risk for STDs and for fear of an "anti-gay bias," the Orange County Register reports. Surveys show that more than a third of lesbians do not receive preventive gynecological care. Many indicate that they are not at risk for STDs, even though lesbians can contract chlamydia, trichomonas and human papillomavirus and other diseases from "touching, rubbing or sex toys." Unlike heterosexual women, lesbians do not regularly need to schedule yearly exams in order to refill birth control prescriptions and may neglect to have exams for several years. However, not seeing a doctor may be especially "dangerous" for lesbians because they "typically" do not take hormonal birth control or give birth, two factors known to reduce the risk of certain types of cancers. Fear of "gay-bias" also prevents lesbians from seeing doctors, and many lesbians say that health care providers are not well informed of their "particular health risks." A survey of 2,000 lesbians conducted by HHS' AIDS office found that a lack of trust in or "bad experiences" with health care providers, along with high health care costs, are common reasons for forgoing doctor visits (Marshall, Orange County Register, 4/18).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.