Bisexual individuals comprise nearly half of those who identify as LGBT — but only about 28 percent of bisexuals disclose their sexuality, according to the Movement Advancement Project. This can lead to significant health disparities, which led the Bisexual Resource Center to denote March as Bisexual Health Awareness Month.
BRC, located in Boston, Massachusetts, launched Bisexual Health Awareness Month in 2014 with the intention to raise awareness of social, health and economic issues that affect the bisexual community.
“The first campaign theme, ‘Bi the Way, Our Health Matters Too!” encompassed mental health, sexual health, nutrition and sexual violence,” said spokesperson Laura DelloStritto. “The campaign was so effective in engaging people to share statistics and resources that the BRC continues to celebrate Bisexual Health Awareness Month each March.”
The 2017 theme is social health, including friends, family, partners and community. Each week, the BRC tunes its social media channels to feature statistics, resources and action steps related to each topic.
“In part, the campaign will highlight statistics on bullying, low coming out rates, intimate partner violence and social health,” DelloStritto said.
She said bisexual individuals are more likely to suffer mood and anxiety disorders, and be more economically disadvantaged, than gay and lesbian people.
Bisexual women in particular face disparities such as higher rates of cancer, heart disease and obesity, compared to heterosexual women. Bisexual men are also less likely to get tested for HIV, according to Human Rights Campaign.
“Although bisexual women are more likely to have been tested for HIV than heterosexual women, they also report higher rates of behaviors that can increase the likelihood of HIV transmission, such as having anal sex and condomless sex with a non-steady partner,” HRC reports. “In addition to lower rates of Human Papilloma Virus screening among bisexual women — which can increase the risk of cervical cancer — bisexual men also have elevated rates of HPV, which can lead to anal cancer.”
In addition, bisexual women are more likely to engage in behaviors that increase risk, such as combining substance or alcohol use with sexual activity, than are lesbians and heterosexual women.
HRC says bisexual individuals also face increased rates of mental health concerns, including “double the rate of depression,” higher rates of binge drinking and greater likelihood of engaging in self-harm.
According to HRC, 25 percent of transgender individuals also identify as bisexual, and 23 percent as queer, indicating that some bisexual individuals may be “particularly vulnerable to disparities.”
“Awareness that bisexuals experience discrimination, violence, poor mental and physical health, and often at higher rates than gay and lesbian people, is a step toward improving these outcomes,” DelloStritto said.
Though there aren’t any Georgia-specific events slated for March, DelloStritto said Georgians are invited to attend an online interactive panel to learn more about health disparities affecting bisexual individuals.
Black Bisexual+ Social Health Online Panel Saturday, March 25 at 2:30 p.m. Follow @BRC_Central on Twitter for more details on how to participate