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Healthcare services neglecting gay and bisexual men

by Louise Naughton
30 April 2012

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Britain’s gay and bisexual men are often overlooked by health services, a survey suggests.

Healthcare professionals tend to focus solely on gay and bisexual men’s sexual health rather than their mental and general health.

Research by gay, lesbian and transgender charity Stonewall shows gay and bisexual men are more likely to attempt suicide or self-harm, have depression, smoke, drink and take illegal drugs.

In the last year, 3% of gay men and 5% of bisexual men have attempted to take their own life, while just 0.4% of men in general attempted to commit suicide in the same period.

The survey shows just one in ten gay and bisexual men have ever discussed prostate or bowel cancer with a healthcare professional and only 3% have ever discussed lung cancer


Almost nine in ten gay and bisexual men have never discussed heart disease with a healthcare professional and 80% have never discussed high blood pressure or high cholesterol.


Furthermore, out of the near 6,900 gay polled, one in three revealed they have not been tested for HIV – a finding the charity said raises “grave concerns”

“This deeply troubling report provides hard evidence that Britain’s 1.8 million gay and bisexual men are being let down by health services which often see homosexuality and bisexuality purely as sexual health issues,” said Ben Summerskill, Chief Executive of Stonewall.

“As a result hundreds of thousands of gay and bisexual men are in dire need of better support from health professionals. This landmark report makes a number of recommendations that could help health services improve before more lives are ruined.”

Niall Dickson, the Chief Executive of the General Medical Council, said guidance makes it “absolutely clear” doctors must not discriminate unfairly against patients and said such instances of poor care are “completely unacceptable”.

The survey also found a third of gay and bisexual men are not out to their GP or health professionals.


Only one in five said their GP surgery displayed a policy stating that they would not discriminate against people because of their sexual orientation and just 40 said their GP had a clear policy on confidentiality.