Conference on healthcare for LGBT patients to be held January 16 at University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences


The University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) is hosting a day-long free conference, “Providing Optimal Health Care for LGBT Patients,” on January 16; it is open to both the general public and healthcare professionals.

The director of the National LGBT Health Education Center at The Fenway Institute and professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School, Harvey Makadon, M.D., is scheduled to give the keynote lecture. Makadon said in a press release, “LGBT people have disproportionately high rates of tobacco use, HIV infection, encounters with violence and homelessness, elevated rates of depression and suicide attempts, and reduced access to preventive health services. A critical step in dealing with these disparities is to educate providers on how to provide optimal care for LGBT people.”

UAMS vice chancellor for diversity and inclusion, Billy Thomas, M.D., is also scheduled to deliver an overview of LGBT health and health care.

“The focus of the conference will be on the health disparities among the LGBT community,” Thomas said, according to the press release. “Our target group is primary care physicians, but we want to open up the conference to the public in order to educate people on the wide health care gap that exists in the LGBT population.”

That gap exists in large part due to lack of research on LGBT health; according to Science Codex, between 1989 and 2011, only 0.5 percent—that’s one-half of one percent—of the studies the National Institutes of Health (NIH) funded was in regards to the health of the LGBT community specifically, and most of those centered around sexual health, especially HIV/AIDS. When those were taken out of the equation, the number dropped to 0.1 percent.

That oversight is beginning to change, however. The Affordable Care Act now requires the Department of Health and Human Services to include sexual orientation and gender identity in federal population health studies, which should provide more specific information on what issues are a concern and where they are most common, to start looking for solutions.

Additionally, teaching medical students about LGBT healthcare matters is becoming more common, such as the Drexel University School of Public Health program offering a certificate in LGBT health; it is believed to be only the second such program in the nation.

A professor at the university, Ted Faigle, told 429Magazine, “Drexel’s Certificate for LGBT Health is designed for students with an interest in studying current health & wellness issues impacting LGBT populations. These issues range from basic safety and mental health concerns of young people just coming to terms with being transgender, lesbian, gay or bisexual to the ongoing and emerging issues surrounding HIV/AIDS care, awareness and the effects of stigma.

“The program also provides practical experience in best methods for studying LGBT populations, collecting reliable data and asking sensitive research questions about sex, sexuality and gender in order to gain the most useful information about LGBT people, needs and identities.”

The UAMS conference is scheduled for 8:00 am – 4:45 pm in the Winthrop P. Rockefeller Cancer Institute 10th floor Walton Auditorium; breakfast and lunch will be provided. The complete agenda for the day is here; the registration form can be downloaded here.


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