Lesbian and Bisexual Women in Australia Smoke and Drink a Lot More Than the General Population

According to a recent survey from Australia's Curtin University, lesbian and bisexual women are way more likely to engage in all that fun, reckless behavior that jeopardizes one's health, such as drinking, smoking, using drugs and not visiting the doctor regularly. Researcher Jude Comfort says that the findings, though a little disheartening, ought to help raise health awareness within the LGBT community.

The survey looked at about 900 hundred women whose average age was 26. The biggest gaps between lesbian and bisexual women and the general population centered on substance abuse — about half the women surveyed admitted to drinking more than Australian guidelines recommend, with more than a third admitting to binge drinking. Moreover, according to Comfort, ""In the six months prior to the survey nearly half of the women had used an illicit drug-36% had used cannabis, 18% ecstasy and 16% speed...these figures are higher than the broader community." About 43 percent of lesbian and bisexual women ages 16 to 24-years-old smoke tobacco, compared to only about 15 percent of Australia's general population. Lesbian and bisexual women were also less likely to get regular pap smears, with 27 percent of survey respondents saying that they'd never had a pap smear, as well as an additional 8 percent claiming that they'd had their last pap smear over three years ago.

Comfort added just a touch more bad news to these findings — 35 percent of women had experienced some form of anti-LGBT bigotry over the course of the preceding year, and about 20 percent had experienced domestic violence with a female partner, a rarely discussed phenomenon in the lesbian community. Comfort expressed some bemusement that healthcare initiatives that have impacted most other communities have failed to gain traction among lesbian and bisexual women, but hopes that the results of the survey help more healthcare officials understand what sort of preventative care lesbian women want and need.

Lesbians more likely to binge drink, take drugs: study [WAtoday]