For survivors of the AIDS pandemic, the coronavirus has been a frightening flashback.
And for those trying to make a living as members of the LGBTQ community in the 21st century, the situation is getting worse.
Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer Americans are suffering from a higher unemployment rate as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, according to a poll by the Human Rights Campaign and PSB Research.
While statistics during this critical period have become speculative and have highlighted the impact of COVID-19 on communities of color, the stories of LGBTQ people continue to go unnoticed.
“It is unfortunate, but not surprising, to see how COVID-19 is disproportionately impacting vulnerable populations, including the LGBTQ community,” Elizabeth Bibi, the campaign’s senior communications adviser, told NBC News. “Understanding the impact this virus is having on our community is crucial so that we can be best prepared to weather this crisis and work together on how to recover.”
The report, based on 4,000 participants polled from April 16 to May 6, found that 17 percent of LGBTQ people had lost their jobs because of COVID-19, compared to 13 percent of the general population. LGBTQ people of color were disproportionately affected: Twenty-two percent of them reported losing their job because of the pandemic, compared to 14 percent of white LGBTQ people surveyed. The report also found 42 percent of LGBTQ people said their financial situation was “somewhat or much worse off now than one year ago,” compared to 36 percent of non-LGBTQ people.
Similarly, the presence of pre-existing conditions among LGBTQ people has put them in a more vulnerable position during the pandemic.
Members of this community are “more likely to be smokers than other Americans,” the Human Rights Campaign explained, as well as more likely to suffer from asthma. In the United States, LGBTQ people, especially people of color, are also more likely to have chronic medical conditions such as HIV or AIDS.
Access to health care can also contribute to high cases of COVID-19 among LGBTQ Americans. Approximately 17 percent of LGBTQ adults have no health insurance coverage at all, compared to 12 percent of LGBTQ Americans, according to the National Center for Transgender Equity.
Similarly, circumstances during the pandemic have also worsened trying to live together in an atmosphere of tension and insecurity, especially due to the persistence of HIV stigma and the lack of recognition of non-hetero-normative family units that have severely hindered access to health care for this community.
During April, gay men who have recovered from COVID-19 were turned away from donating plasma — a donation that would help patients struggling to survive — according to The Guardian, in part because of the discriminatory mindset that has persisted since the 1980s.
“It’s been a very long struggle to try to get them to just simply adapt and include the current science in the policy,” said Scott Schoettes, counsel and HIV project director at Lambda Legal, a civil rights organization.
A study conducted by the UCLA School of Law found that adults from sexual minorities “are twice as likely as the general population to have experienced homelessness in their lifetime.
This is especially true for LGBTQ people of color.
“Given the high rates of poverty among people of color, whether LGBT or not it is not surprising that we would also see high rates of recent housing insecurity,” the report adds.