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American Medical Association to address LGBTQ health disparities

LGBTQ Health Disparities

Conceding that LGBTQ patients encounter a desert of knowledgeable and culturally competent doctors, the American Medical Association’s philanthropic arm  announced today a national fellowship program that will train physicians and promote best practices on LGBTQ health while decreasing LGBTQ health disparities. Photo: iStock

Conceding that LGBTQ patients encounter a desert of knowledgeable and culturally competent doctors, the American Medical Association’s philanthropic arm announced today a national fellowship program that could be a game changer — The program will train physicians and promote best practices on LGBTQ health while working to decrease LGBTQ health disparities.

The American Medical Association is the largest group of physicians and medical students in the United States.

John D. Evans, one of the co-founders of C-SPAN, will serve as chairman of the AMA Foundation Fellowship Commission for LGBTQ Health, which will guide the fellowship’s structure and implementation.

LGBTQ health fellowship

“It is critical we eliminate health care disparities facing the LGBTQ community,” Evans said in a statement. “Intersectional issues of discrimination, stigma, access to and quality of care are experienced at a higher rate by lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender individuals, and we believe this new initiative will improve the health of LGBTQ people across the country.”

The AMA announcement follows the news last month that nurse practitioners will be able to receive culturally competent training for LGBTQ healthcare thanks to the first fellowship of its kind in the nation at the Callen-Lorde Community Health Center in Brooklyn, NY.

The AMA Foundation Fellowship for LGBTQ Health is scheduled to launch in August 2022.

The Fenway Institute

For several years, health advocates have criticized the healthcare field for it’s sloth-like reactions to address LGBTQ health care needs and the shortage of culturally competent doctors.

“It is wonderful that the AMA has recognized the importance of training health care professionals to provide culturally competent care for sexual and gender minority patients,” said Kenneth Mayer, co‑chair and medical research director of Boston’s The Fenway Institute at Fenway Health, one of the world’s largest LGBTQ focused health centers.

“This initiative builds on much of the foundational work that has been developed at Fenway Health and The Fenway Institute over the past few decades,” Mayer said.

Evans also said that the one-year AMA fellowship “will create a pipeline of LGBTQ health specialists who are able to serve the health care needs of the LGBTQ community while growing the pool of competent instructors able to pay it forward by passing on their knowledge to the next generation of LGBTQ providers.”

LGBTQ health disparities

Several studies have reported on LGBTQ health disparities:

  • Sexual and gender minorities face high rates of stigma and discrimination that ultimately prevent visits to health care professionals altogether.
  • Transgender people are eight times more likely to report a suicide attempt in their life relative to cisgender people.
  • Policies that deny services to LGB people are linked to a 46% increase in the proportion of gay, lesbian and bisexual adults who report mental distress.
  • LGBT seniors are more likely to have poor general health, more chronic conditions, higher rates of disability, and more psychological distress.
  • Lesbian and bisexual older women have higher rates of cardiovascular disease and are more likely than heterosexual women to have multiple chronic conditions.
  • Bisexual and transgender adults are more likely to live in poverty, which heightens their risk for health care disparities and poor health.

John D. Evans

The LGBTQ Fellowship Commission will consist of approximately 14 LGBTQ leaders, educational specialists, physicians, and philanthropists who will be appointed by the AMA Foundation Board of Directors, under Evans’s leadership and direction.

Evans served on the board of the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative from 2002 to 2013 as well as the University of Michigan’s Global Health Initiative Advisory Board.

He co-chairs the advisory board for Dr. Robert Gallo’s Institute of Human Virology at the University of Maryland.

About the author

Phillip Zonkel

Award-winning journalist Phillip Zonkel spent 17 years at Long Beach's Press-Telegram, where he was the first reporter in the paper's history to have a beat covering the city's vibrant LGBTQ. He also created and ran the popular and innovative LGBTQ news blog, Out in the 562.

He won two awards and received a nomination for his reporting on the local LGBTQ community, including a two-part investigation that exposed anti-gay bullying of local high school students and the school districts' failure to implement state mandated protections for LGBTQ students.

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