Jun 182018
 

Open Minded Health has been running for 7 years.

Just let that sink in. For seven years I’ve been posting about gender and sexual minority health. Sometimes I posted weekly, other times biweekly. All through medical school, personal illness and injury and tragedy. And Open Minded Health is still here. Some marriages don’t survive medical school (mine did!). But Open Minded Health did.

On March 16 I found out that I matched into my preferred specialty of Family Medicine. And I learned where I will spend the next three years of my training. On May 13 this year I graduated medical school. I am now a physician. And on the 29th of this month I will begin the next phase of medical training: Residency.

For those unused to thinking about medical education, residency is a kind of on-the-job training all physicians must go through to become licensed. Residency is so called because residents almost live at the hospital. Long gone are the days of 72 hour shifts and wheeling patients to the X-ray machines ourselves. However, residency is still a grueling time. We may now be capped at 80 hour work weeks. And I may personally only rarely need to pull a 24 hour shift. But it’s still an intense time in medical education.

For me, residency is made all the more complicated by location. I was lucky enough to get one of my top two residencies. It was one of the three closest to my home. However that means it’s only..a one hour drive away. My wife and I have made the difficult decision to continue to live at home. So I will be entering the hardest education of my life, and adding a commute on top.

All this leaves very little space for Open Minded Health. That doesn’t mean Open Minded Health will end. I firmly believe in the mission of Open Minded Health: To bring health information to all gender and sexual minorities, so that we can all make the best health care decisions for ourselves.

What this may mean is less frequent, sporadic updates. It may mean guest posts and additional authors. It may mean a formal hiatus from new posts for a while. At least, until I get settled. I’m exploring options.

What this does not mean is a complete end to Open Minded Health. This website, and Trans 101, will stay up. I will continue to do my best to check on and respond to comments and questions.

For now, please accept my gracious thanks for being an Open Minded Health reader. I will update when I can.

Take care, all. Remember to play safe, see your doctor regularly, and enjoy life!

– Dr Rose Lovell

Nov 212016
 

On October 6, 2016 the National Institutes of Health in the United States designated gender and sexual minorities a disparity population for the purposes of research. This is tremendous news. The NIH is the health research arm of the US government. It gives grants. Scientists working there do crucial research. The NIH provides training and research opportunities for students and professionals alike.

Long time readers of Open Minded Health may remember the many times I’ve said “we need more research.” This is part of how we get that research. Through incentives that can now be provided by the NIH, and through the hard work of all connected with it.

Slowly but surely gender and sexual minority health is becoming better understood. And only through understanding it can we even begin to improve it. Ultimately so that we can all live healthier, longer, happier lives.

Read the full declaration below.

Sexual and Gender Minorities Formally Designated as a Health Disparity Population for Research Purposes

On behalf of many colleagues who have worked together to make today possible, I am proud to announce the formal designation of sexual and gender minorities (SGMs) as a health disparity population for NIH research. The term SGM encompasses lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender populations, as well as those whose sexual orientation, gender identity and expressions, or reproductive development varies from traditional, societal, cultural, or physiological norms.

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.

In addition, SGM populations have unique health challenges. More research is needed to understand these challenges, such as transgender people taking exogenous hormones.

Progress has been made in recent years, with gains in legal rights and changing social attitudes. However, stigmatization, hate-violence, and discrimination are still major barriers to the health and well-being of SGM populations. Research shows that sexual and gender minorities who live in communities with high levels of anti-SGM prejudice die sooner—12 years on average—than those living in more accepting communities.

The Minority Health and Health Disparities Research and Education Act of 2000 authorizes the Director of the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities (NIMHD), in consultation with the director of the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, to define health disparity populations. This month, with strong support from AHRQ Director Andrew Bindman, M.D., I formally designate sexual and gender minorities as a disparity population for research purposes.

The designation builds on previous steps by NIH to advance SGM health research. In 2011, the Institute of Medicine (now The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine) published an NIH-commissioned report on LGBT health issues. In response to the report recommendations, NIH extended its research portfolio and created the Sexual and Gender Minority Research Office (SGMRO). The SGMRO, within the Office of the Director, coordinates NIH-supported activities on SGM health issues and provides guidance to researchers within and outside of NIH.

I offer my gratitude to inaugural SGMRO Director Karen L. Parker, Ph.D., M.S.W., and NIH Principal Deputy Director Lawrence A. Tabak, D.D.S., Ph.D., who led the proposal for designation. I also offer my gratitude to colleagues across NIH who served on the NIH-established working group for their careful consideration on this matter.

This designation marks an important and necessary step in realizing NIH’s mission to advance the health of all Americans.

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