By Wendy Sarubbi | November 21, 2013 2:21 pm

Physicians committed to caring for all patients must be sensitive to the health needs – and current health disparities – of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people, according to a nationally recognized physician advocate who will speak at the UCF College of Medicine December 5.

Dr. Harvey Makadon, director of the National LGBT Health Education Center at the Fenway Institute and a clinical professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School, will speak on “The End to LGBT Invisibility” in healthcare in the Lewis Auditorium (Room 102). A reception begins at 5:30 p.m. in the Atrium of the medical education building, with the presentation following at 6 p.m.

Dr. Makadon will provide an overview of LGBT health disparities, demographics and terminology, as well as key strategies for bringing high quality care to LGBT people at health centers and other healthcare organizations. Participants will also learn about creating LGBT-inclusive environments of care and about the intersections of LGBT health, population health and patient-centered medical homes.

“Ultimately we want to identify ways to create an environment supportive of LGBT patients and colleagues in our hospitals and clinics,” said Dr. Lori Boardman, assistant dean for medical education and professor of obstetrics gynecology, who is hosting the event. “If we are going to provide top-tier medical care, we need to understand the individual needs of all of our patients.”

Approximately 9 million Americans identify as LGBT, and unfortunately, many have found healthcare fraught with anxiety and humiliation. Perceived and actual homophobia, moral judgments and even ignorance by providers cause many LGBT individuals to avoid healthcare, putting them in increase danger for disease. Historically, there have also been few research studies on the healthcare needs of LGBT people, yet those limited studies show troubling health disparities:

  • Gay men and women have a higher risk for certain cancers (lung, breast, cervical and anal) due to a higher prevalence of smoking, being overweight and inadequate screening by medical providers.
  • LGBT youth are more likely to be victimized at school and are up to four times more likely to attempt suicide than heterosexual youth.
  • When compared with the general population, LGBT people are more likely to use alcohol and drugs and have higher rates of substance abuse.
  • Gay and bisexual men account for about 53 percent of new HIV infections.

“As physicians, we need to learn more about LGBT health issues so we can better care for our patients,” said Dr. Boardman. “I hope Dr. Makadon’s presentation will be informative and inspirational as we look to become more inclusive to improve healthcare for all.”

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