Social prejudices against lesbians and bisexual women

Family and social rejection, discriminatory practices, and prejudices can put the health of lesbians and bisexual women at risk.

«Old stereotypes also make them seek medical assistance too late,» said Marian Alonso, a comprehensive general medicine specialist in Camagüey, over 530 kilometers east of Havana. She made the statement last December, at an annual meeting of the Network of Lesbians and Bisexual Women, which was established under the umbrella of the National Sex Education Center (CENESEX).

«Lesbians are not always treated as they should,» she added.

«There is also lack of information on their part: they ignore that they are more likely to develop cervical cancer than heterosexual women,» she indicated.

«They do not have to go see the doctor and immediately say they are lesbians,» she stressed.

While sexual relations between women have not had a major impact on HIV/AIDS transmission, they can get infected as well.

They show a low risk perception, mostly due to myths and beliefs, as shown in a study over the vulnerability of lesbians to sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and HIV/AIDS, which was conducted by specialists Yenis Milanés and José E. Martínez in the eastern province of Granma, 740 kilometers away from the capital city.

The findings were presented at the 1st National Meeting on Gender and Non-Heterosexuality Studies, which was held last January 20-23 in the central province of Cienfuegos, 250 kilometers away from Havana.

«The gynecological examination using a speculum is an invasive procedure to them, but it is really necessary for any woman,» Alonso emphasized.

«Social stigma can also cause depression, anxiety, fear and uncertainty,» Martínez recalled.
Experts strongly recommend increasing risk perception among these women and actively involve them in STI and HIV/AIDS prevention campaigns.

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