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Large-scale government health survey reports on gay, bisexual Americans

Tuesday, July 15, 2014
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AP

AP

Less than 3 percent of U.S. adults identify themselves as gay, lesbian or bisexual, according to the first large-scale government survey measuring Americans’ sexual orientation.

The National Health Interview Survey, released Tuesday by U.S. Centers for Disease Control, found that 1.6 percent of adults self-identify as gay or lesbian, and 0.7 percent consider themselves bisexual.

An additional 1.1 percent declined to answer, responded “I don’t know the answer” or said they were “something else.”

The survey, conducted in 2013, included nearly 35,000 adults and is the federal government’s premier tool for annually assessing Americans’ health and behaviors.

The latest report marks the first time since the survey began in 1957 that it has included a measure of sexual orientation. The survey did not ask about gender identity, due to the much larger sample size needed to gain an accurate assessment of transgender Americans.

But the survey does offers insight through the lens of sexual orientation on measures critical to public health, such as smoking, drinking and health insurance status.

Echoing other studies, the survey found that — compared to their heterosexual counterparts — gays were more likely to smoke and to have consumed five or more drinks in one day, at least once in the past year.

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Straight women were more likely to consider themselves in excellent or very good health than women who identified as lesbian.

But gays were more likely to have received a flu shot than straight people, and gay men were less likely to be overweight than straight men.

The survey also found that 67 percent of the gay population has been tested for HIV at least once, compared to 37 percent of the straight population.

Among bisexual Americans, 11 percent said they had experienced serious psychological distress in the past 30 days, compared with their counterparts who identified as straight (3.9 percent).

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