Labour’s Sharon Hodgson: Health inequalities are an LGBT issue
In recent decades, we have made great strides when it comes to LGBT equality.
We have ensured that LGBT individuals have the same rights and opportunities afforded to the rest of society, such as equal marriage, gay and lesbian couples being able to adopt and putting an end to homophobic legislation such as Section 28.
But this does not mean we have not got far more to do to improve the lives of LGBT individuals, especially when it comes to their health.
We can all agree that health issues, such as smoking, drug misuse, long-term health conditions and excessive drinking affect the whole of society.
Yet studies have shown some of these issues can be far more prevalent in the LGBT community, such as higher prevalence of smoking amongst gay men and lesbians, a higher instance of using drugs than the general population and higher levels of binge drinking.
There needs to be far more done to address these issues, not only to benefit the health of the LGBT community but also the whole of society as these health issues can affect any of us.
However, there are some specific health issues which this Government are failing to address comprehensively and are letting the LGBT community down.
Firstly, we have seen cuts or decommissioning of HIV prevention and support services because they have fallen through the gaps of the new health commissioning landscape created by the Health and Social Care Act (2013).
We have seen detrimental cuts to public health budgets which are impacting the future of sexual health clinics which offer vital support and advice to the LGBT community, to the HPV vaccine pilot which has not been widely promoted.
And finally the delays in providing PrEP on the NHS which would revolutionise our approach to HIV prevention.
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It is important that we have a revolution in improving the health outcomes of everyone in our society or we risk serious ramifications which will impact the future of our NHS.
Never should we take for granted the work needed to improve the health of everyone in our society, including the LGBT community.
Labour has a strong record of standing up for the LGBT community and it is one to be proud of, but it is time that those great strides seen previously are now replicated in the health of the LGBT community.
I am committed to this mission I have set out and will work with the LGBT community and health professionals to push the Government to act and ensure the health of the LGBT community is improved.