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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
December 3, 2010

Contact: Chris Viveiros
617.927.6342 / 617.721.7494
cviveiros@fenwayhealth.org

HISTORIC INCLUSION OF LGBT PEOPLE IN FEDERAL HEALTHY PEOPLE 2020 HEALTH POLICY BLUEPRINT

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services took an important step forward for LGBT health as they unveiled Healthy People 2020 (HP2020), the blueprint for national public health prevention and policy goals for the next decade.  For the first time LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) health is recognized and there is clear acknowledgement that LGBT individuals experience health disparities that affect their health status.  LGBT health appears as a special topic area among the 42 listed within HP2020, and transgender people are included in the document.  Previous versions of Healthy People referred only to lesbian, gay and bisexual people.  This success follows a decade of national community effort to document the health challenges confronted by LGBT persons. Information on the recommendations can be found at www.healthypeople.gov.

The goals set forth in Healthy People 2020 will guide the allocation of federal public health resources for the next ten years.  The Fenway Institute has been a leading advocate for LGBT inclusion in this document since its last iteration, Healthy People 2010.  Both Dr. Judith Bradford and Dr. Scout from The Fenway Institute attended yesterday’s public launch event.

The LGBT topic area page speaks strongly about issues affecting the health of LGBT people, such as the impact of discrimination, the importance of widespread cultural competency, the LGBT community's resiliency, and the need for routine and comprehensive data collection on sexual orientation and gender identity. Sexual orientation and gender identity are also thoroughly covered in the Foundation Health Measure Report on Disparities, which is modeled on the core populations targeted in the Affordable Care Act for enhanced data collection around health disparities.

“LGBT people face a variety of specific health disparities and federal recognition is an important first step in addressing those disparities,” said Dr. Judith Bradford, Co-Chair of The Fenway Institute and Director of the Center for Population Research in LGBT Health.  “Healthy People 2020 is a historic document; it moves us forward in our ability to enrich the knowledge base of LGBT Health issues.  The DHHS has ultimately acted to ensure that resources will be available for programs, services and research. Because of the tireless advocacy by community and academic organizations, as well as The National Coalition for LGBT Health and The Fenway Institute, we have made significant progress.”

Though Healthy People 2020 represents a major advance, increased inclusion in relevant topic areas remains a top priority.  As Healthy People 2020 evolves, we will continue to be proactive in our review of the objectives related to LGBT health in each of the topic areas and their implementation.

“These are wonderful gains. The inclusion of transgender people, the formation of the Health and Human Services LGBT Workgroup for HP2020, and  the creation of a new LGBT topic area is more than we initially expected.” says Dr. Scout, Director of the Network for LGBT Health Equity at The Fenway Institute.  “The one page summary of this document clearly lists their commitment to eliminating disparities for all LGBT people. There’s still work to be done, but today was the single largest step forward for LGBT health in years.”

During the public comment at the launch Assistant Secretary Dr. Howard Koh talked about efforts to find new ways to capture LGBT data, broadening the definition of disparity populations to include LGBT people with disabilities, and several other groups “It is excellent that they are looking at data collection,” said Dr. Scout. “Until we are routinely included in the demographic sections of health surveys, the lack of data about our health disparities limits our ability to take steps for improving them.”

Henia Handler, Director of Government Affairs at Fenway Health, home of The Fenway Institute, has been continuously involved in conversations with Healthy People staff since the development of the Healthy People 2010 Companion Document for LGBT Health. She concludes “Healthy People is an important resource for organizations hoping to address health disparities in grant applications and it’s the model for many state health plans as well. Hopefully, today’s launch of Healthy People signals a sea shift that will create changes in the lives of LGBT people everywhere.”

For nearly forty years, Fenway Health has been working to make life healthier for the people in our neighborhood, the LGBT community, people living with HIV/AIDS and the broader population.  The Fenway Institute at Fenway Health is an interdisciplinary center for research, training, education and policy development focusing on national and international health issues.  Fenway’s Sidney Borum Jr. Health Center is dedicated to providing the best quality health care for youth and young adults ages 12 to 29 who may not feel comfortable going anywhere else.  More about all of our programs and services can be found at www.fenwayhealth.org.

 

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