Homophobia in our healthcare system – Sydney Morning Herald

Homophobia in our healthcare system – a very worthwhile read from Friday’s Daily Life, Sydney Morning Herald. Written by Melissa Davey (coincidentally a student at Sydney School of Public Health), it was prompted by a very interesting research article on lesbian mothers’ experience of the healthcare system. What I especially liked about the research article is the researchers’ description of four different ways women experienced homophobia: exclusion from services and healthcare; heterosexual assumption; inappropriate questioning and outright refusal of services. I suspect they resonate for many same-sex attracted women (so not limited pregnancy).

The researchers echo a point ACON has been making for a while (indeed they cite ACON’s historic “Turning Point : Lesbian Health Strategy“):

Fundamentally, the distinctive healthcare needs of lesbian women go unnoticed, are deemed unimportant or are simply ignored

As a reminder, those distinctive healthcare needs include significantly higher rates of smoking, risky drinking, illicit drug use, psychological distress… We don’t have evidence to show the impact of some of these lifestyle risk factors (tobacco, alcohol) because NO ONE IS COLLECTING THE DATA, but we know that they are likely to produce higher rates of  cardiovascular disease, cancer, etc.

Lower rates of Pap smears in women without a history of sex with men suggest there is still education to be done. The comments on the Daily Life blog repeat myths about lesbian women not needing Pap smears. Even though the message has been pretty clear for a while:

Western Australian Cervical Cancer Prevention Program

PapScreen Victoria – although note the curious choice of ‘sexy’ imagery

Women’s Health Queensland

South Australian Cervical Screening Program

Cervical Screen NSW

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