Opinion: Public health is missing crucial data on LGBTQIA+ people. It’s not hard to collect

The importance of capturing demographic data in health care settings and population surveys can’t be overstated. If a population or group isn’t counted, it may as well be invisible. That’s why the recent recommendation by the Biden administration’s Covid-19 Health Equity Task Force that federal, state, local, Tribal, and territorial health departments collect data on sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI) data is a big deal.

Two years into the pandemic, there are myriad reasons to hypothesize that LGBTQIA+ people are experiencing higher rates of Covid-19 infection, illness, hospitalization, and death than their heterosexual and cisgender peers. They are twice as likely to work in frontline professions such as retail and food services, health care, and education. They also experience higher rates of chronic conditions such as cardiovascular disease, asthma, and diabetes that can exacerbate Covid-19 symptoms, and they tend to engage in behaviors that can increase the risk of complications from Covid-19, such as smoking and vaping, at higher rates than the general population.

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