The association of sexual orientation with self-rated health, and cigarette and alcohol use in Mexican adolescents and youths
Evidence of health inequities associated with sexual orientation has been gathered for industrialized countries. The situation for lesbians, gay males, and bisexuals (LGB) from middle- or low-income countries may be worse than those in industrialized nations. Here, we analyze the relationship of sexual orientation with self-rated health and cigarette and alcohol use among a representative sample of Mexican adolescents and youths between the ages of 12 and 29 years, in order to explore whether this association is mediated by discrimination and violence. Three dimensions of sexual orientation (affective attraction, sexual behavior, and identity) were assessed. The outcomes were self-rated health and cigarette and alcohol use. Compared to heterosexuals, LGB youths more frequently smoked >or=6 cigarettes per day, reported having experienced family violence, having crimes perpetrated against them, and having experienced violations of their rights. Among males, gays and bisexuals exhibited a higher risk of poor health than heterosexuals. Compared to heterosexual women, lesbians and bisexual women were more likely to consume alcohol. Many differences in self-rated health and substance use according to sexual orientation were explained by having experienced discrimination and violence. We concluded that lesbian and bisexual females have a higher prevalence of cigarette and alcohol use. It is necessary to develop policies and programs aimed at the reduction of substance abuse among LGB youths (focusing on females who engage in sexual contact with persons of the same gender) and to work against discrimination and violence experienced by LGB people, particularly against non-heterosexual males.