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Coming Out to Your Primary Care Provider

Coming Out to Your Primary Care Provider

LGBTQ Pride Month is celebrated each June to commemorate the impact that lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer or gender-nonconforming people have had, and continue to have, on society. While millions may celebrate, many members of the LGBTQ community continue to experience stigma and keep their identity hidden. That may mean not sharing their sexual identity or orientation with their health care provider.

Dr. Andrew Gasparini, an Altru primary care physician (PCP), says having a PCP means that there is an established bond between doctor and patient.

“A primary care provider wants to be able to provide everyone with proper individualized care.” says Gasparini, “Whether someone identifies as LGBTQ+, nonbinary, or questioning they are all individuals that have medical needs and deserve world-class care.”

two men talkingGasparini also encourages patients to not only share their sexual preferences with their provider but also discuss how they wish to be addressed with pronouns and gender identity.

In a recent Mayo Clinic Minute, Dr. Natalie Erbs, a Mayo Clinic family medicine physician, notes that it’s important information to share to ensure everyone gets the best care possible.

When filling out forms before seeing your health care provider, you might see a line asking about your sexual orientation or gender identity. A person’s medical record is privileged information even if a person is not comfortable being out in public or with family.

“Sometimes it’s hard to say the words out loud, but it’s much easier to click a button. But again, we want to know that about you to get you the right care and get you to the right place,” says Dr. Erbs.

But why does it matter?

“We want to know that about you so that we can get you the right care and get you to the right place,” Dr. Erbs says.

doctor checking heart on man“It affects what type of screenings you might need for certain sexually transmitted infections, depending on the type of sex you’re having, and what exposures you might have to other things like HIV,” says Dr. Erbs. “Some of my patients might qualify to be put on HIV prophylaxis to prevent HIV, depending on the type of sex and who they’re having sex with.”

Dr. Erbs says she hopes you choose to come out to your health care provider.

“We in primary care want to see you, and we want to know about you and get to know you as a person,” says Dr. Erbs.

As a member of the Mayo Clinic Care Network, Altru Health System has access to Mayo Clinic knowledge, resources, and expertise.

Learn more about primary care and yearly screening and checkups at altru.org/familymedicine.