VICTORIA -- A Vancouver-based research group will be examining if the LGBTQ2+ community (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and two-spirited), is at a greater risk of developing COVID-19 or other chronic diseases.

The Community-Based Research Centre (CBRC) will be studying the effects of COVID-19 on the LGBTQ2+ community through a $660,000 grant from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research’s COVID-19 Immunity Task Force.

The Public Health Agency of Canada is also providing the CBRC with $1 million in funding to research how chronic diseases affected the LGBTQ2+ community.

Researchers say members of the LGBTQ2+ community can face different levels of discrimination and stigma that manifests into poor mental health, which can in turn lead to differential outcomes in terms of chronic health.

“At most levels of government we don’t collect any data on LGBTQ2+ communities,” said Dr. Nathan Lachowsky, CBRC research director and associate professor at the University of Victoria’s School of Public Health and Social Policy.

“What that means is often we’re erased from the story and we don’t really know what’s happening,” he said. “So although we have some anecdotal evidence, these new studies are meant to build a database to understand what is truly happening and importantly what policy actions need to be taken.”

Lachowsky says part of the work involves bridging the gap in the poor relationship that the Canadian government has had with the LGBTQ2+ community.

Research into the effects of COVID-19 on the LGBTQ2+ community will begin in November, while research on chronic disease in the community will follow in 2021. 

More information about the studies can be found here