What sexual orientation matters to health
Examples of how sexual orientation can affect health include:
- Research looking at mental health suggests gay men and lesbians report more psychological distress than heterosexuals. This can often be associated with a lifelong exposure to bullying and abuse. Surveys have shown extremely high percentages of young lesbian, gay and bisexual (LGB) people reporting verbal and physical abuse. It has also been found that young LGB people are up to six times more likely to attempt suicide that heterosexual youth.
- Drug use amongst gay men has been found to be significantly higher than for heterosexual men. Research suggests that drug use is in part due to low self-esteem, and also due to the attitudes of society towards this group.
- Lesbians have specific health issues relating to fertility, pregnancy, sexual health and mental health. However, there is evidence that lesbians are afraid to tell their GP of their sexual orientation in case they experience discrimination.
Figures show that gay men and men who have sex with men are generally at higher risk of contracting HIV/AIDS than heterosexual people. In 2006, 38% of all new cases of HIV/AIDS were found within this population group. Gay men and men who have sex with men are also at higher risk of contracting Ghonorrea, with 81% of all new cases diagnosed in 2006 found within this group.