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Survey assesses health of Kansas City's gays and lesbians

Survey assesses health of Kansas City's gays and lesbians

A recent survey conducted by the Kansas City, Mo., health department and the Lesbian and Gay Community Center of Greater Kansas City assessed the health and habits of more than 1,000 gays, lesbians, and bisexuals. Although most participants considered themselves healthy, the study revealed unhealthy practices like smoking, unprotected sex, and missed medical tests. Investigators distributed the survey from May to July 2003 at events that attract members of the gay community, such as the city's pride festival and AIDS Walk. A total of 1,143 people from Jackson, Clay, Platte, and Cass counties in Missouri and Johnson, Wyandotte, and Leavenworth counties in Kansas completed the survey. More than 95% of the survey participants considered themselves to be in either good or excellent health. More than 40% got at least 30 minutes of exercise several days a week. And while 24% were obese, that was below the overall adult obesity level in Kansas City of 34%. More than 38% of participants were smokers--significantly higher than the national adult smoking rate of 23.1%. About 34% of gays and 24% of lesbians reported they drank to get drunk at least once a month. About one fifth said they experienced stress or depression almost always or very often. Many lesbians did not get regular mammograms, although research suggests they may be at increased risk of breast cancer. Some sexually active men did not use condoms consistently, and 9% of gay men said they had HIV. Most gays and lesbians were out to family and friends, and many were in committed long-term relationships. Sixty-five percent of lesbians, 51% of gay men, and 41% of bisexuals reported being in relationships.

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