HRC Celebrates National LGBT Health Awareness Week
March 26, 2013 by Shane Snowdon, Director, Health & Aging Program
This week is an important one for LGBT Americans in even more ways than you might think. This is not only the week that marriage equality is being argued before the U.S. Supreme Court—it’s also National LGBT Health Awareness Week! In fact, this is the first Health Awareness Week that HRC will celebrate with its new Health & Aging Program (HAP) in place.
HAP staff are touring the country this week to spread the word about LGBT health concerns. For example, in one swing we’ll visit Atlanta and Augusta, Georgia, then move on to Columbia and Charleston, South Carolina. We deeply appreciate the hospitals, medical schools, and LGBT groups that have invited us to talk about the health disparities and inequities that LGBT people experience-- and what healthcare providers can do to bring these to an end.
A unique and powerful tool for creating an equitable and welcoming healthcare environment is HRC’s national Healthcare Equality Index (HEI). This annual survey of U.S. healthcare facilities asks where they stand vis-à-vis requirements and recommendations for optimal LGBT patient care—and offers free training to bring their staff up-to-speed on LGBT concerns. This week is the deadline for the HEI 2013, and we’re expecting record numbers of facilities—including many Veterans Administration medical centers—to achieve “HEI Healthcare Equality Leader” status for their efforts to provide the best possible care to LGBT patients.
We’ll also be celebrating other recent breakthroughs in LGBT health this week. A number of these are highlighted in an Awareness Week statement by U.S. Health & Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, who spoke at the release of last year’s HEI report.
LGBT health accomplishments just in the last month include significant progress toward passage of the HOPE Act, federal legislation advocated strongly by HRC that would greatly increase the number of organs available for transplantation to people living with HIV and AIDS. HRC also just released, with the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare, a key report on Social Security inequities experienced by same-sex couples and families that was featured in a Capitol Hill briefing.
Other recent breakthroughs include release of a first-ever report from the Centers for Disease Control on intimate partner violence, sexual victimization and stalking experienced by lesbians, bisexuals and gay men. HRC also attended a national meeting, on how LGBT organizations can engage more deeply with HIV/AIDS concerns, which has engendered much follow-up.
We’ll be posting more LGBT Health Awareness Week news throughout the week, even as we follow the Supreme Court marriage equality arguments and analysis closely. And we’d love to hear about LGBT Health Awareness Week celebrations in your part of the world!
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