PALM SPRINGS, Calif. - Dozens gathered at Desert Aids Project in Palm Springs to flip through the pages of a groundbreaking report called "The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender Health & Wellness Profile."
The 108-page report is the first of its kind. It's a Riverside County and local effort to give a better insight into the health issues and disparities of the LGBT community, information pulled from studies done across the country.
"It's really about identifying the health needs of a population in Riverside County that before this we really didn't have much information on," said Aaron Gardner, Riverside County Dept. of Public Health research specialist.
The report discovered gay and lesbian teens smoke twice as much as heterosexual teens.
Bisexual women report domestic violence nearly three times more than their straight counterparts.
Nearly 25 percent of lesbians and bisexual women report having asthma, nearly double that of the general female population.
"They were extremely shocking numbers that came out for the bisexual community," said Dr. Charles Gonzales, of the University of California Riverside School of Medicine.
Gonzales said the data will help break stigmas, educate fellow health care providers how to meet the needs of LGBT people, reduce risks and direct funding appropriately.
"We need to find out the why, why are these statistics so bad? So we can develop an intervention in how are we going to change the statistics so the healthcare outcomes are better," said Gonzales.
"Having this data will allow us to design programs and raise funds to meet some serious unmet needs in the LGBT community," said Desert Aids Project CEO David Brinkman.
County leaders and health officials hope the report will initiate patient-doctor conversations for a healthier LGMT community in the Coachella Valley and beyond.
"There's no doubt that we will inspire others to learn about the health in their community, but also as we become more culturally competent in serving LGBT population and can prove positive health outcomes, we'll definitely change healthcare," said Brinkman.
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