PAHO report on the health situation of LGBT individuals urges the elimination of barriers to accessing care, so that no one is left behind

The report describes the situation of this population, with recommendations for eliminating barriers and improving access to health services in the Americas.

Washington, D.C., 26 September 2018 (PAHO/WHO) – After studying the obstacles that lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgender (LGBT) people in the Region of the Americas face when they seek health care, the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) has issued a report urging the elimination of barriers to accessing these services.

The document, presented this week to the 56th PAHO Directing Council, provides information from questionnaires completed in 33 of the Region’s countries and territories and by 28 nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), as well as 130 scientific articles and documents.

LGBT individuals experience worse health outcomes than heterosexuals. Other disparities include higher rates of depression, anxiety, tobacco use, alcohol abuse, suicide, and suicidal ideation than the rates for heterosexuals. This is due to chronic stress, social isolation, and a lack of connection with various health and support services.

According to the report, the stigma and discrimination faced by this population continues to be the principal obstacle to their ability to access comprehensive, quality health services when and where they need them. It shows that while the services provided place a strong emphasis on prevention and treatment of HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases, they do not comprehensively address the general health status and particularities of this group.

The report’s recommendations highlight, among other issues, the need to establish a health care system that is equally accessible to all people, create LGBT-sensitive services, and eliminate direct payment at the point of service. Furthermore, the report recommends including LGBT-relevant content in training programs for new health professionals, enacting legislation favorable to LBGT persons, and repealing laws that penalize them.

The PAHO Director’s report, entitled Addressing the Causes of Disparities in Health Service Access and Utilization for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Trans (LGBT) Persons, is the result of a resolution adopted in 2013 during the 52nd PAHO Directing Council, and is aligned with the Universal Health strategy. The resolution also urges Member States to promote equitable access to health services for this population, and to adopt policies, plans, and laws to accomplish this.


— Report of the Director on Addressing the Causes of Disparities in Health Services Access and Utilization for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Trans (LGBT) Persons
— PAHO Resolution. Addressing the Causes of Disparities in Health Service Access and Utilization for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Trans (LGBT) Persons
— 56th PAHO Directing Council