On Oct. 11, the Human Rights Campaign celebrates National Coming Out Day. The campaign encourages LGBTQ people to come out, because it still matters. Dr. John Knudsen, a Mayo Clinic radiologist, wants all LGBTQ people to also come out to their health care provider, because their health matters.
He says some people in the LGBTQ community don't get regular exams or reveal their sexual identities, because they worry that their health care providers might react negatively to them.
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As many same-sex couples openly share their relationships, there is one area about which Dr. Knudsen wishes the LGBTQ community would share more.
Dr. Knudsen says, “On average, it takes patients five visits to their primary care physician or provider before they ever disclose the fact that they are lesbian gay, bisexual or even transgender.”
Dr. Knudsen says that’s often because LGBTQ people may fear a negative reaction from their health care team.
“Is this a safe place for me to disclose this about myself?”
This fear results in missed opportunities to screen for health issues. Fear also keeps LGBTQ people from seeking preventive care. For example, lesbians and transgender people are less likely to get mammograms and Pap smears.
“This is protected health information, so confidentiality is assured.”