State aims to create more welcoming environment at doctor's offices for LGBTQ community

Published: Feb. 5, 2018 at 6:38 PM AKST
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Studies show people in the LGBTQ community may be at a higher risk for cancer and for being diagnosed at a later stage, but the state is working to bridge the gap through cultural sensitivity training.

The state said social and economic factors and behaviors can be related to the stress of living as a sexual and gender minority.

Julia Thorsness with the Comprehensive Cancer Control Program said fewer screenings can also be a factor.

"There's a lot of barriers to that though if you as a community have not had a good experience, or if it's not welcoming, it's very off-putting and you don't ever want to go back again. You're gonna miss your cancer screenings just because you're not involved with that medical community," Thorsness said.

Identity Inc. has provided cultural sensitivity training to those in the partnership on how to become a more welcoming oncology practice.

Brooks Banker, the youth program manager at Identity Inc., said the goal is to help the community gain awareness.

"It's fundamentally creating awareness of terminology, spectra and disparities within our community and we kind of go through sexual orientation as well as biological sex or sex assigned at birth, gender identity, gender presentation, and how all those things differ as well as have intersectionality for our community," Banker said.

The state said the goal is to reach under-served populations and eliminate barriers to adequate care.

Alaska's top cancer-causes are related to obesity, poor physical activity and smoking.