Post submitted by Marcos Garcia, HRC Associate Director, Healthcare Equality Project
As LGBTQ people navigate life in the time of COVID-19, the need for continuity in health care access is more important than ever. The ongoing pandemic has exacerbated health issues for many in the LGBTQ community, especially for those disproportionately impacted by the pandemic, including communities of color and people living with HIV and AIDS.
In an effort to continue providing primary care, many health care providers are now offering virtual visits using technology to connect with their patients. Known as telemedicine (or telebehavioral health for mental health support), these patient-provider visits are typical appointments from your home or wherever you are. This technology has been around for more than 50 years, but in these unprecedented times, telemedicine is now crucial for preventing the spread of COVID-19, keeping people safe and maintaining continuity of care.
Not only restricted to COVID-19-related appointments, telemedicine can be used for sick and well primary care visits; chronic care management, including diabetes, high blood pressure, HIV and PrEP follow-up appointments; medication refills -- including transition-related care; and mental health services and psychotherapy.
Telemedicine visits are not restricted to existing patient-provider relationships, which is useful if one is starting up their search for a health care provider. Some states also allow care with out-of-state providers. This is helpful if one lives in a community where it is not safe to be out as LGBTQ in a local clinic, or where access to LGBTQ-affirming health care is limited. Telemedicine allows LGBTQ people access to experts who are affirming and welcoming.
HRC Foundation recently released a telemedicine FAQ entitled, “Telemedicine and COVID-19: Frequently Asked Questions” and a video of a conversation between Diane Bruessow, PA, and Ellen Kahn, director of HRC’s Children, Youth and Families Program that provides a brief overview of telemedicine and more information about its utility.
If you are struggling to find health care or health-related resources, please see some resources below. And please reach out to your physician, PA or NP or local LGBTQ center for any personal questions.
- Healthcare Equality Index 2019: A tool to find LGBTQ-inclusive health care facilities near you
- Fenway Health's COVID-19 Information webpage
- Fenway Health's Considerations for People Living with HIV and LGBTQIA+ People
- CDC COVID-19 Information
- PrEP at Home: A webinar for patients about PrEP by the National LGBT Health Education Center
- Trans Lifeline provides a peer support hotline and grants for trans people in need. You can call their hotline at 877-565-8860.
- The Trevor Project provides access to counselors to youth by phone call (1-866-488-7386), online chat, or text (text START to 678678). They also have an online community for LGBTQyouth aged 13-24.
- SAGE’s National LGBT Elder Hotline provides crisis response and helps connect people with community resources. Call their hotline at 877-360-LGBT and request to speak to someone in either English or Spanish.