First survey of the health of Iowa’s LGBTQ community has begun

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Stethoscope. — photo by ~riley , via Wikimedia

A first of its kind health survey of Iowa’s LGBTQ community is now underway. The Iowa Cancer Consortium, in partnership with One Iowa, the University of Iowa College of Public Health and Des Moines University, is sponsoring the survey.

“Basically we saw the need for more data,” Levi Lappin of the Iowa Cancer Consortium explained. “There’s not much health data for the LGBTQ community at the state-level.” But that’s not an issue unique to Iowa, he said.

“Iowa’s about on-par with most states. The Iowa Department of Public Health’s surveys are targeted at the general population,” Lappin said. “But our neighbor Minnesota is really good at doing these sorts of surveys, specifically for the LGBTQ community.”

Much of the health data collected on LGBTQ people is done at the nation-level.

“For example, the LGBTQ community has a much higher rate of tobacco use in national studies,” Lappin said. He also pointed to Centers for Disease Control (CDC) statistics that indicated that gay and bisexual men have high rates of human papillomavirus infection, which make them more vulnerable to many forms of cancer, while lesbian and bisexual women have a low rates of cancer screening.

“More and better data will help health officials at the county and state-level better understand the needs of this community,” Lappin said.

In a press release on the survey, the Iowa Cancer Consortium cites the CDC’s recommendation: “The perspectives and needs of LGBT people should be routinely considered in public health efforts to improve the overall health of every person.”

The survey will form part of a study of the health status and needs of Iowa’s LGBTQ community being directed by Dr. Paul Gilbert of the University of Iowa College Of Public Health.

Anyone interested in participating in the survey can find the form online. The survey runs through December 8.

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