LGBT Wellness

In addition to regular wellness, LGBT individuals have a number of specific health concerns that are more prevalent than non-LGBT communities. Because of this fact, the Gay & Lesbian Medical Association recommends the following topics for LGBT people to discuss with their healthcare providers. View these Top 10 lists with more detail at the GLMA website.

Breast cancer
Be out to doctor
HIV/AIDS, safe sex
Heart health
Gynecological cancer
Fitness (diet and exercise)
Fitness (diet and exercise)
Substance abuse/alcohol
Substance abuse
Prostate, testicular and colon cancers
Intimate partner violence
Sexual health
Be out to doctor
Access to health care
HIV/AIDS, safe sex
Health history
Fitness (diet and exercise)
Cardiovascular health
Substance abuse/alcohol
STDs/safe sex
Alcohol and tobacco
Prostate, testicular, breast, cervical
and colon cancer
Injectable silicone
Fitness (diet and exercise)

HIV/AIDS – The Situation at the Federal Level

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) monitor annual HIV infection and AIDS diagnosis rates in order to keep track of the epidemic and gain a better understanding of communities most affected by it. Monitoring cases of HIV/AIDS allows the CDC and others to improve prevention and education techniques by tailoring them to the specific communities they serve.

To do this, the CDC keeps track of infection and diagnosis rates among different age, race, ethnicity and gender categories. According to CDC statistics, there were an estimated 48,100 newly infected individuals in 2009. Men who have sex with men (MSM)* accounted for 61% of these infections. Another key finding is that racial/ethnic minorities are disproportionately affected. Although African-Americans and Latinos make up only 14% and 16% of the nation’s population respectively, these groups comprised 44% and 20% of new infections in 2009.

*(The term “men who have sex with men” (MSM) is used in CDC surveillance systems. It indicates the behaviors that transmit HIV infection, rather than how individuals self-identify in terms of their sexuality. Source: Centers for Disease Control)

As of 2004, the CDC had confirmed no cases of HIV transmission between women whose only risk factor was sex with other women. For women who had sex with women and were also infected, another risk factor was present, most commonly intravenous drug use or sex with men who are infected or at risk for infection.

For more information, please visit the HIV/AIDS section of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website.

In 2010, the Obama administration produced a national strategy for battling the HIV/AIDS epidemic in America. This document, a first of its kind, is meant to provide a long-term vision for reducing infection rates and increasing access to vital medical care for those who are already infected. Read the  National HIV/AIDS Strategy for the United States.

HIV/AIDS – The Situation in Illinois

Prevention & Service

Enter your location, such as: “Washington, DC”, or “20002”.

For more information on this widget, please visit AIDS.gov.

Please contact contact@aids.gov with any comments or concerns.

Since the beginning of the epidemic, nearly 40,000 AIDS diagnoses have been reported to the CDC from Illinois. Because of this, Illinois has consistently ranked among the top ten states with the highest rates of HIV/AIDS infections and diagnoses. As is the case on the national level, the disease disproportionately affects racial and ethnic minorities.
According to the CDC, African-Americans accounted for 53.4% of new AIDS diagnoses in 2009, yet only comprised 14% of Illinois’ total population. That is 5% higher than the national rate among the same group. Latinos made up only about 17% of the total new diagnoses that year but U.S. census data from 2010 show that the state’s Hispanic/Latino population was only about 16%. Such disparities highlight the need for community-based intervention and education programs.
Funding for such programs comes from a number of sources. In 2009, federal funding for HIV/AIDS causes totaled more than $113 million, about $18 million of which came from the CDC. Illinois also allocated $14 million to help slow down and fight the epidemic. These funds support awareness, education and intervention programs targeted specifically to the communities that they serve.
The CDC’s 2010 Profile for Illinois contains more information on these statistics.

Know Your Health Rights

Know Your Rights - HealthMuch of this information is in the Equality Illinois “Know Your Rights” pamphlet on Health Services. You can make your own 3-fold pamphlets for personal use or multiple copies for your organization. You can see and download it HERE.

Are there laws that protect LGBT individuals from health care and insurance discrimination?

Yes. In Illinois, it is illegal to discriminate against or refuse to treat patients based on sexual orientation or gender identity.

Federally, the Affordable Care Act (ACA) includes nondiscrimination provisions that address access to health care and data collection on LGBT health disparities. The ACA also puts an end to limits on lifetime coverage and the practice of denying  coverage because of pre-existing conditions such as HIV or cancer.

Furthermore, the American Medical Association (AMA) ethics rules, which serve as a guide for how physicians should practice medicine, call for the equal treatment of LGBT patients. The AMA states that physicians who offer their services to the public may not decline to accept a patient based on certain characteristics, including sexual orientation and gender identity.

How does being transgender affect health insurance coverage?

Illinois law prohibits discrimination against transgender people by places of public accommodation, and insurance has been held to constitute a public accommodation. It is important to review health insurance exclusions, generally located in a benefits plan summary.

A vast majority of health insurance companies exclude all or most coverage for treatment related to gender transition, such as hormones, counseling and surgery. Some language is so broad that it may deny coverage to a transgender person for treatments unrelated to transitioning.

Beginning in 2014, the Affordable Care Act prohibits insurance companies from denying coverage on the basis of a pre-existing condition, such as a transgender medical history.

Are there laws that protect discrimination based on HIV/AIDS status?

Yes. Under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), people living with HIV/AIDS are guaranteed equal opportunities in employment, housing, public accommodations, telecommunications, and transportation. The ADA applies to all local and state governments, departments, and agencies. The ADA protects people who haveor are perceived to have HIV/AIDS, as well as individuals discriminated against because they associate or have a relationship with someone who have HIV/AIDS.

Protections in employment: Under the ADA, private employers with 15 or more employees and all public employers cannot discriminate against applicants, candidates, or employees based on HIV/AIDS status, as long as they are qualified and able to perform the essential functions of the job. An employer is legally obligated to provide a reasonable accommodation to help you perform the essential functions of the position. You are not required to disclose your status, however, you can be asked to pass a medical examination if it is required for all employees in similar positions, and medical records may be requested to confirm a disability if an accommodation is requested. Employers are also required to keep your HIV/AIDS status confidential.

Protections public accommodations: Under the ADA, people with HIV/AIDS must be given equal opportunities and access to use or enjoy a public accommodation’s services or goods. Medical professionals cannot refuse to provide care to patients because they have HIV/AIDS.

Protections in housing: Under the Fair Housing Act (FHA), you cannot be denied the rental, sale, or lease of most apartments and houses based on your HIV/AIDS status – exceptions apply to owner-occupied buildings with four or fewer units, and the sale of a single-family home without real estate agents. People living with HIV/AIDS cannot be refused or denied entry into housing programs that receive federal financial assistance, or any state or local housing program.


The Gay & Lesbian Medical Association’s Provider Directory can assist in your search for health care professionals who are welcoming to LGBT patients. You can access the directory at www.glma.org.

For health care related concerns and complaints, call:
• American Hospital Association
312-422-3000 or 1-800-424-4301

• Lambda Legal Help Desk
1-866-542-8336 or 312-663-4413