The National Institute of Health has announced on Thursday that they will formerly designate “sexual gender minorities as a health disparity population for NIH research,” in an effort to initiate the process to rectify the health-related issues that affect the LGBT community on a large scale.
— NIH (@NIH) October 6, 2016
NBC shares the words of Eliseo Pérez-Stable M.D, who is director of the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities.
“Mounting evidence indicates that SGM populations have less access to health care and higher burdens of certain diseases, such as depression, cancer, and HIV/AIDS. But the extent and causes of health disparities are not fully understood, and research on how to close these gaps is lacking. This designation marks an important and necessary step in realizing NIH’s mission to advance the health of all Americans.”
Kellam Baker, who is a senior fellow for the LGBT Research and Communications Project at the Center for American Progress, has been working with the institute to begin making the recent announcement a reality since the Obama administration took over. He now believes that, since the efforts have been made a reality, it will allow the NIH to be able to coordinate the study on LGBT health disparities among the large number of institutes tied to the NIH and that the health of the LGBT health and research will be taken more seriously, all around.
“This isn’t a matter of politics. It isn’t a matter of public opinion. It’s a scientific fact that LGBTQ people face a health disparity. When I started this work about a decade ago, I was told, ‘Don’t bother.’ I was told no one that no one believes that these kinds of studies would ever become a real thing. Beforehand, any time a proposal went out from the NIH saying, ‘We want to investigate these disparities,’ you were never sure that you would get a reviewer who acknowledged these disparities even existed. ‘This isn’t a matter of politics. It isn’t a matter of public opinion. It’s a scientific fact that LGBTQ people face a health disparity.”
The initiative causes more recognition of the community and the NIH will be toiling to reverse a history of discrimination that has existed withing the institution that was responsible for beginning the disparity that now exists. The devaluing of minority communities by organizations, including those of color, has been directly related to individuals of the LGBT community of color becoming sick and remaining that way.
— DCHomos (@DCHomos) October 7, 2016
Baker went on to comment on this fact that is backed by statistics.
“Communities of color face this health disparity to a greater degree, and this doesn’t mean a group of people are innately sick, but that discrimination makes us sick, and systems are set up to discriminate. Health disparities are avoidable differences that could be solved if we distributed resources differently, or had a different understanding or how people’s lives matter equally.”
He adds that it goes back to the idea that populations which face disparities are generally diverse. Individuals are not just gay, or black or transgender, or disabled. There are intersections of identities and those who live life at a number of intersecting diversities face more discrimination and therefore “greater disparity.”
Baker goes on to shed light on the face that HIV amongst gay and bi men, as well as trans women, is a clear example of where disparity exists, as there are
Baker noted HIV, especially amongst gay and bi men or trans women, as a clear cut example of this disparity, as these “are only groups where rates of infection have been increasing. ” In addition to the symptoms of the disease, mental health issues, such as depression and anxiety, as well as substance abuse are connected to this disparity. These symptoms are connected, as Baker states, to the individuals living “under the constant stress of existing in a society that tells you that you don’t matter can exacerbate these issues, pointing to the passing of HB2 as something that would have disproportionately adverse effects on the mental health of queer and trans communities.”
[Feature Image by Joe Raedle/Getty Images]