LGBT-friendly doctors focus on better educating gay community

Finding gay-friendly doctors is a challenge in Tampa

TAMPA, FL -- Healthcare doesn’t come easy for the LGBT community.

Did you know there are lists for gay-friendly doctors?

A lesbian couple in Philadelphia even created an APP to help find LGBT-competent healthcare professionals.

“It’s extremely important,” said Luke Blankenship, Tampa native and interim executive director of St. Pete Pride.

“I can’t go to a doctor that is uncomfortable with A, who I am and B, doesn’t know how to treat something that may be going on with me that wouldn’t necessarily be going on with a heterosexual, cis-gender male.”

“Communication is so much more important because of the whole HIV crisis back in the 80s and 90s.”

More than 1.1 million people are still living with HIV in the U.S.

Gay and bisexual men are the most affected.

“We need to get the word out, we need young people to feel comfortable that we are a partner with them in maintaining good health,” said Dr. Patricia Emmanuel, a physician for the Ybor Youth Clinic and professor of pediatrics at USF.

“This is a really underserved group because they don’t feel comfortable seeking healthcare. They feel judged, embarrassed.”

The clinic focuses on ages 13 to 25 and is a supporter of the LGBT community. The staff educates about important health issues like taking a drug that could help prevent HIV for high-risk youth.

“This pill actually can drop your risk of HIV by 90 percent if you take it,” she said.

Gay and bisexual men made up an estimated 26,200 new HIV infections in the U.S. in 2014.

Blankenship said Metro Wellness and Empath Health are also great LGBT-friendly healthcare facilities.

“It’s different being a gay man, being transgender, being lesbian than being a heterosexual cis-gendered person because the health needs are different. We are different people, we lead different lives,” he said.  

© 2017 WTSP-TV


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