LGBTQ people are more vulnerable to coronavirus for three reasons.

On 11 March, more than 100 LGBTQ organisations released a joint open letter to healthcare providers and mainstream media outlets to make them aware that queer people are at greater risk of contracting the coronavirus.

Dr. Scout, Deputy Director for the National LGBT Cancer Network, states: “As the spread of the novel coronavirus a.k.a. COVID-19 increases, many LGBTQ+ people are understandably concerned about how this virus may affect us and our communities.

“The undersigned want to remind all parties handling COVID-19 surveillance, response, treatment, and media coverage that LGBTQ+ communities are among those who are particularly vulnerable to the negative health effects of this virus.”

The letter continues to say that LGBTQ people are vulnerable because of three specific factors.

“The LGBTQ+ population uses tobacco at rates that are 50 percent higher than the general population,” it states. “COVID-19 is a respiratory illness that has proven particularly harmful to smokers.”

LGBTQ people are also at risk because our community has higher rates of HIV and cancer, “which means a greater number of us may have compromised immune systems, leaving us more vulnerable to COVID-19 infections.”

The third and final factor in LGBTQ people being more vulnerable is because we “continue to experience discrimination, unwelcoming attitudes, and lack of understanding from providers and staff in many health care settings.

“As a result, many are reluctant to seek medical care except in situations that feel urgent – and perhaps not even then.”

The letter continued to urge those involved with the virus to “ensure that our LGBTQ+ communities are adequately served during this outbreak” and for queer individuals to seek medical attention if they are experiencing a fever or a cough.

The coronavirus outbreak was labelled a pandemic by the World Health Organization (WHO) earlier this week.

WHO chief Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus revealed that the number of cases of the coronavirus outside China had increased 13-fold in two weeks, and said he was “deeply concerned” by “alarming levels of inaction”.

Boris Johnson, UK Prime Minster, said it has been “the worst public health crisis for a generation” and that cases will “rise sharply”, and further warned that “many more families are going to lose loved ones before their time.”

The full letter about how the coronavirus will affect LGBTQ people greater can be found here.