According to a researcher of the Aging with Pride: National Health, Aging, and Sexuality/Gender Study, the relative invisibility of older LGBT Americans is equivalent to a “major public health issue.”
Dr. Karen Fredriksen Goldsen, the researcher of this ongoing study, told the American Heart Association that the project seeks to “understand the poor health outcomes in this community.” Around 2.7 million U.S. adults over 50 years old identify as LGBT–and that’s expected to nearly double by 2060. The Aging with Pride study is the first federally-funded longitudinal national project designed to understand the health of older LGBT adults, and it includes more than 2,400 LGBT adults ranging from ages 50 to over 100.
The AHA report discusses health disparities that affect LGBT seniors. Around 13% report being denied health care or given poor care because of their sexual or gender identities, and that number is closer to 40% for transgender participants. Additionally, though it’s typically considered a young person’s disease, 45% of Americans living with diagnosed HIV are over 50 years old. This is especially important because those with HIV have a 50 to 100% higher risk of heart attack or stroke than people who are negative for HIV, in part because doctors are less likely to prescribe aspirin or cholesterol-lowering drugs to those patients.
The AHA article also noted health disparities within subgroups of the aging LGBT community:
Both Hispanic and African-American LGBT older adults in the project are more likely to report having HIV than their white counterparts.
Hispanic LGBT adults are more likely to report asthma, diabetes and visual impairment.
African-American LGBT older adults are more likely to be obese and have high blood pressure.
Native American LGBT older adults are less likely to report cancer than whites but more likely to report poor physical health, disability, obesity, asthma and cardiovascular disease.
Asian/Pacific Islander LGBT older adults are more likely to have visual impairment, but less likely to be obese or have cancer.
The Aging with Pride study has a high retention rate (around 96%) and Dr. Goldsen attributed this to the interest that many participants have in learning about these important health disparities. She told the AHA, “They really want to reduce disparities and create better health opportunities for the next generation.”
You can learn more about Aging with Pride: National Health, Aging, and Sexuality/Gender Study here: http://age-pride.org/
You can read the AHA report here: https://news.heart.org/aging-lgbt-seniors-a-major-public-health-issue/