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Chronic illness refers to long-term conditions that are rarely completely cured and are often characterized by uncertain outcomes, unpredictable episodes of intrusive symptoms, and intermittent or progressive physical and/or mental impairment. Examples include cardiovascular disease, arthritis, respiratory problems, diabetes, epilepsy, and cancer. This entry provides a brief overview of how chronic illness may impact people’s lives generally; it then goes on to consider how chronic illness intersects with LGBTQ lives more specifically.

Over the course of the 20th century, there was a dramatic shift from acute to chronic diseases as the leading cause of mortality in industrialized nations. Improved sanitation, public health surveillance, routine immunizations, and improvements in health care more broadly have led to aging populations and a rise in the number of people living ...

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