HRC Arkansas Announces LGBT-Focused Health Summit

by HRC Staff

LITTLE ROCK—Today,  HRC Arkansas announced that it will host a statewide health conference focused on addressing the needs of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) Arkansans. The Equal Care for Equal Lives summit is designed for community members, practitioners, and healthcare professionals. The event focuses on building awareness and cultural competency, leveraging best practices, and gathering resources from leading experts and organizations in the LGBT healthcare field. The event will be held June 11 at the Brandon Conference Center, located on the Arkansas Children's Hospital campus.

Within medical spaces, discrimination stands as a leading issue facing the LGBT community.  Fear of discrimination causes many LGBT people to avoid seeking healthcare. And when they do enter care, studies indicate that LGBT people are not consistently treated with the respect that all patients deserve.

“Obtaining adequate healthcare is a critical issue for LGBT Arkansans, who often struggle to find a knowledgeable provider who is sensitive to their needs,” said HRC Arkansas State Director Kendra R. Johnson. “This summit is a unique opportunity for healthcare providers and community members to learn about ways to support our LGBT friends, family members and coworkers.”

Topics that will be presented at the summit include prevention and treatment of HIV; financial barriers to the Affordable Healthcare Act and Medicaid; transgender competency; and discussions on what LGBT patients wished their physicians knew.

Speakers include:

  • Kendra Johnson, HRC Arkansas State Director

  • Marvell L. Terry, II,, HIV and AIDS Fellow, Human Rights Campaign

  • Kellan Baker, Senior Fellow, LGBT Research and Communications Project, Center for American Progress

  • Angie Bowen, M.S., LPC, owner of the Bowen Wellness Center

  • June Gipson, Ph.D., President and CEO, My Brother's Keeper

  • Diedra Levi, CEO LACorp/Patient-Centered Care for Trans Health

  • Harvey Makadon, M.D., Clinical Professor of Medicine,  Harvard Medical School and Director of the National LGBT Health Education Center at The Fenway Institute

  • Leandro Mena, M.D., Associate Professor of Medicine and Infectious Diseases at the University of Mississippi Medical Center, and Medical Director at Open Arms Healthcare Center Staff

  • Jon Mourot, Ph.D., Licensed Psychologist

  • Jeffrey Neal, M.D., UAMS Department of Psychiatry

  • Sara Tariq, M.D., Associate Professor of Internal Medicine, UAMS

  • Andrea Zekis, Executive Director, ARTec

The summit is made possible with generous support from the Elton John AIDS Foundation, University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences(UAMS) College of Public Health,  UAMS Center for Diversity, the Arkansas Department of Health's Office of Minority Health and Health Disparities

According to a recent HRC survey of LGBT Arkansans, 42 percent of respondents don’t consider their doctor to be LGBT-friendly. Respondents also noted that increasing HIV and AIDS education and testing, and expanding services for people living with HIV and AIDS are some of the most important social service-related issues facing the LGBT community in Arkansas.

A Lambda Legal survey shows 56 percent of LGB people, and 70 percent of transgender and gender nonconforming people had at least one of the following experiences when attempting to access medical services: (1)being refused needed care; (2)health care professionals refusing to touch them or using excessive precautions; (3)health care professionals using harsh or abusive language; (4) being blamed for their health status; or (5)health care professionals being physically rough or abusive.

HRC Arkansas is working to advance equality for LGBT Arkansans who have no statewide protections in housing, workplace, or public accommodations; and legal state recognition for their relationships and families. Through HRC Arkansas, we are working toward a future of fairness every day—changing hearts, minds and laws toward achieving full equality.


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