COVID-19: What LGBT People Need to Know

LGBT people are likely worried about the potential impact of COVID-19 on their health. People at particular risk should talk to their health providers about their options for protecting themselves from infection.

Updated January 25, 2021

What is Bradbury-Sullivan LGBT Community Center doing?

Our organization prioritizes health promotion and health equity for the LGBT community, so we are taking COVID-19 seriously and are taking the following precautionary measures:

Why are LGBT people at particular risk for COVID-19? 

LGBT people are at particular risk for COVID-19 as a result of several factors: 

We use tobacco at rates that are 50% higher than the general population. COVID-19 is a respiratory illness that has proven particularly harmful to smokers. 

Higher rates of HIV and cancer among LGBT individuals mean that a greater number of us may have compromised immunity, leaving us more vulnerable to Coronavirus infection.

LGBT people experience health disparities. Health disparities affect the potential COVID-19 impact on us in two ways: 

  1. Access to care barriers leaves us less likely to get medical care, and
  2. Existing health disparities mean more of us live in a state of compromised health. 

What can I do to avoid getting COVID-19?

From what we know about transmission now, there are clear steps we can all take to reduce this risk. Prolonged close exposure to airborne droplets from the breathing of someone who is shedding the virus is thought to be the main route for transmission. Try to minimize time spent in close quarters with other people inside. Whenever possible keep 6’ away from other people and stay outside. Practicing good pandemic hygiene including frequent hand washing and avoiding touching your mouth, nose, or eyes will reduce your risk of any surface-related exposure. 

There is evidence of transmission by people who appear healthy. These people may be presymptomatic (about to show symptoms) but the important point is they can transmit the virus without understanding they are sick. 

Plus, you can download the free COVID PA Alert app on your phone to report symptoms of COVID-19, while also providing data on daily user check-ins and a breakdown of cases statewide. It's completely safe and your information is secure.

Download the COVID PA Alert app

Governor Tom Wolf has released the current phases in which vaccines will be rolling out in the state of Pennsylvania. 

*People living with HIV are eligible to receive the vaccine under Phase 1A and people living in Philadelphia under Phase 1B*

If any of you fall into one of these categories you can now schedule your COVID vaccine.

Are there special precautions that LGBT people should take?

If an LGBT person has cancer, smokes, is living with unsuppressed HIV, is over 65 years old, or has any other fragile health condition, consider taking additional measures to avoid risk of infection. This could include more vigilance about staying away from symptomatic people, it could include avoiding larger gatherings of people, and should definitely include practicing excellent epidemic hygiene, like frequent hand washing and breaking habits of face-touching.

All smokers should know they can access free tobacco cessation services by calling or visiting

1-800-QUIT NOW

What should I do if I think I may have this COVID-19?

Hospital hotlines for phone screening and determination if you need a COVID-19 test:

Lehigh Valley Health Network: 1-800-402-LVHN and ask for MyLVHNRN to be screened. More info from LVHN is available here

St. Luke's University Health Network: 1-866-785-8537, option 7. More info from St. Luke's is available here

Please do not go an ER until you have called one of the hotlines.

As you travel to get health care, remember: 

  • Cover your mouth in some way so you do not unwittingly transmit to others, and 
  • Wash your own hands frequently and minimize touching common surfaces.

Staying home while you are sick is the best way to avoid further transmitting the disease to others. 

Mental Health Resources during social distancing:

This time can be very hard for so many of us. When you may need them, please reach out to these resources below. They are very helpful to many of us.



Bradbury-Sullivan LGBT Community Center has produced videos featuring drag performer Mandy Mango to help keep our community informed:

Safe brunching / happy hours during COVID-19

Sexual health during COVID-19

Keep washing your hands

Information on this page is provided in partnership with the National LGBT Cancer Network and Lehigh Valley Health Network. Developed resources reported in this project are supported by the National Network of Libraries of Medicine (NNLM), National Institutes of Health (NIH) under cooperative agreement number UG4LM012342 with the University of Pittsburgh, Health Sciences Library System. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health. Additional support provided by Gamma Mu Foundation.

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