INFLUENZA VACCINATION AMONG LGBTT COMMUNITIES

spanish tobacco

 

 

Juan Carlos Vega, Citizens Alliance Pro LGBTTA Health of Puerto Rico & LGBT HealthLink: the Network for Health Equity

 

 

Are LGBTT communities getting vaccinated against influenza? If you do a search on Google for “LGBT” and “vaccination”, most results refer to current important efforts towards Human Papillomavirus (HPV) vaccination. A few influenza vaccination campaigns targeting LGBTT communities appear scattered in the last two decades. A fabulous one occurred in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The health events section in the Wisconsin GLBT History Project website reports that, “Flu Vaccination shots began to be offered annually to members of the LGBT community in approximately 1990, by the Gay and Lesbian Nurses Association. The effort was begun to target the especially at-risk population of the gay and lesbian community after the AIDS outbreak… For its first 16 years the vaccinations were given in the upstairs at the M&M Club, thanks to Bob Schmidt’s generosity. When the M&M Club closed early in 2006, the Nurses Association began the search for a new location for its 17th year.”

Of all the health problems LGBTT communities, why do we need to worry about influenza? Don’t we have more pressing matters like HIV increase, high smoking prevalence, and rejection to proper services due to stigma and discrimination, etcetera, etcetera? My knowledge on influenza and vaccination is limited but I compare the facts presented during the 3rd LGBTT Health Summit of Puerto Rico on April 4, 2014. According to the most recent statistics from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS), some of the most significant risk factors and health conditions prevalent among LGBTT communities in Puerto Rico are obesity and overweight (53.5%), tobacco use (23.8%), asthma (22.2%), and diabetes (13.1%). Later, in May 2014, the current Puerto Rico Secretary of Health, in alert, due to the increase on reported influenza cases, continued to encourage individuals with chronic diseases like obesity, asthma, and diabetes to get vaccinated. The high prevalence of HIV reported cases among LGBTT communities in Puerto Rico are certainly vulnerable as well to the flu.

It is a no brainer that LGBTT communities are at high risk and should get vaccinated. But then again, are LGBTT communities getting vaccinated? Are there any influenza vaccination efforts in our communities like the one by the Gay and Lesbian Nurses Association in Milwaukee in the 90’s happening today or in summer pride events? The CDC-funded National Influenza Vaccination Disparities Partnership reports that large metropolitan areas like Chicago, Latino-based Casa Ruby in Washington, DC, and the San Francisco LGBT Community Center are offering vaccination clinics and prevention services to LGBTT communities. Anybody else? Anyone has strategies and recommendations to implement influenza vaccination programs and services among LGBTT communities?

 

Through collaborations with the CDC-funded National Influenza Vaccination Disparities Partnership, the Vaccination Coalition of Puerto Rico (VOCES), and the School of Nursing at the University of Puerto Rico , the Citizens Alliance Pro LGBTTA Health was able to provide flu vaccines and education to Summit participants.

Through collaborations with the CDC-funded National Influenza Vaccination Disparities Partnership, the Vaccination Coalition of Puerto Rico (VOCES), and the School of Nursing at the University of Puerto Rico , the Citizens Alliance Pro LGBTTA Health was able to provide flu vaccines and education to Summit participants.

University of Puerto Rico undergraduate students discuss LGBTT health issues / Estudiantes de la Universidad de Puerto Rico discuten asuntos de salud en las comunidades LGBTT

In San Juan, Puerto Rico

By Juan Carlos Vega, blogging for the Citizens’ Alliance Pro LGBTTA Health of Puerto Rico and the CDC-funded LGBT and Latino National Tobacco Control Networks

Estudiantes de bachillerato del curso de BIOL 4990Introducción a la Investigación planificaron, presentaron e invitaron a sus compañeros y amistades a participar de su proyecto final de curso titulado Foro Juvenil de Salud Lesbiana, Gay, Bisexual, Transgénero y Transexual (LGBTT). Con una asistencia de sobre 125 personas, en su mayoría estudiantes, el Auditorio de la Escuela de Ciencia Naturales de la Universidad de Puerto Rico (UPR) en Río Piedras se convirtió en un espacio seguro y saludable para discutir las realidades, necesidades y vicisitudes que viven las comunidades LGBTT para recibir servicios de salud. Luego de escuchar a cinco estudiantes del curso presentar estadísticas sobre la salud de las ­­comunidades LGBTT, discutir la importancia de las prácticas basadas en evidencia científica, mostrar la falta de servicios de salud que reciben las comunidades trans y hablar de los determinantes sociales y ambientales que afectan el acceso a servicios, el auditorio se convirtió en un foro donde jóvenes universitarios, gay y straight, preguntaban e indagaban sobre las realidades, alternativas y prioridades para resolver esta inequidad en salud.  Miembros de la Alianza Ciudadana en Pro de la Salud Lesbiana, Gay, Bisexual, Transgénero, Transsexual y Aliados (ACPS-LGBTTA), representando las diversidades en el acrónimo LGBTTA, se sentaron en panel para contestar interrogantes de la audiencia sobre la importancia del apoyo legal para promover justicia, la necesidad de servicios y grupos de apoyo específicos para comunidades LGBTT, la inclusión de las perspectivas de identidad de genero y orientación sexual en políticas públicas, al igual que el significado de intersexualidad. Fascinantes las preguntas. Y hasta Ricky Martin cogió su mención!

Desde la perspectiva del panel pude captar la atención de los estudiantes durante la discusión de asuntos de salud LGBTT. / From the panels’ perspective I was able to capture students attentions as one of the Alliance members in the panel discussed LGBTT health issues.

Desde la perspectiva del panel pude captar la atención de los estudiantes durante la discusión de asuntos de salud LGBTT. / From the panels’ perspective I was able to capture students attention as one of the Alliance members in the panel discussed LGBTT health issues.

Agradecemos a la Dra. Elba Díaz del Recinto de Ciencias Medicas-UPR por su visión de equidad en salud para todos los puertorriqueños y puertorriqueñas, a los estudiantes presentes, y a los cinco presentadores del día, María Marte Santos, Jossec Ramos Medina, Nora Brauchitsch, Juan Dávila, Rivera y Fransheska Martínez, a quienes felicitamos e invitamos a la próxima Cumbre Puertorriqueña Pro Salud LGBTTA a presentar este mismo tema en Abril del 2014.

Estudiantes presentaron razones por las que el uso de tabaco en las comunidades LGBTT es mas alto que en las comunidades heterosexuales. / Students presented reasons why LGBTT folks smoke more than their heterosexual counterparts.

Estudiantes presentaron razones por las que el uso de tabaco en las comunidades LGBTT es mas alto que en las comunidades heterosexuales. / Students presented reasons why LGBTT folks smoke more than their heterosexual counterparts.

Durante la actividad se distribuyeron materiales educativos relacionados a salud LGBTT publicados por las Redes Nacionales para el Control y Prevención de Tabaco, la ACPS-LGBTTA y Lambda Legal.  Esta actividad se llevó a cabo como parte de la IV Jornada Educativa Contra la Homofobia de la organización Puerto Rico para Todos y fue auspiciada por:

NLTCN spanish logo high res (2)                           lgbt-health Equity

ACPS-LGBTTA Logo

No hay salud sin salud sexual = There is no health without sexual health

In San Juan, Puerto Rico

By Juan Carlos Vega
Blogging for the Citizens’ Alliance Pro LGBTTA Health of Puerto Rico
and the CDC-funded LGBT and Latino National Disparities Networks

 

During this morning plenary session at the VI International Congress of Health Promoting Universities and the IV Public Health Conference of Puerto Rico (http://ivconferenciasp.rcm.upr.edu/home.html), newly elected and LGBTT friendly San Juan Mayor, Mrs. Carmen Yulín Cruz, stated that we can not achieve health without sexual health and education.Image

Dr. Carlos Rodríguez from the Medical Science Campus at the UPR opened his concurrent session stating that sexual health is much more than STD’s and HIV/AIDS.  Comprehensive health has to fully integrate sexual education, especially Puerto Rico’s public schools health education programs.  They have been non-existent for the last ten years.  So now, we have a generation of young parents with low sexual education levels.  Media mostly focuses on high HIV/AIDS and STD’s statistics, yet important aspects like these are not taken into consideration in the public health context.

Sexoplorando, a study on sexual health in Puerto Rico, included a trans sample and representation from 71 of 78 municipalities in Puerto Rico.  Email salud.sexual@upr.edu for more details on this study.

LGBTT Health sessions during the IV Public health conference in Puerto Rico

In San Juan, Puerto Rico
 
By Juan Carlos Vega 
Blogging for the Citizens’ Alliance Pro LGBTTA Health of Puerto Rico
and the CDC-funded LGBT and Latino National Disparities Networks
 
 
 

Today is our last day attending the VI International Congress of Health Promoting Universities and the IV Public Health Conference of Puerto Rico in the Puerto Rico Convention Center.  We are forever grateful to the National Latino Tobacco Control Network for sponsoring our participation in this event.

From a quick glance at the Agenda, we identified an LGBTT health related session during each of the concurrent times the first two days of the conference.  The majority are proposals from Puerto Rico, including a 3-day forum on sexual health, which presents research and realities regarding LGBTI health in Puerto Rico.  This means that it doesn’t matter if the government, society, and religion don’t recognize our communities, we are still out of the closet.  And there is data to prove it!

Among the research presented included issues like gender construction as a social determinant of health and its effects in the trans communities of Puerto Rico, which had Trans Women and Trans Men data samples.  Another presentation had research student, Yesarel Pesante, present an analysis of homosexual couples from 2005 to 2009 Census data from Puerto Rico.  Finally, poster presentations included research on same sex behaviors and its relationship with sexual and health related practices among a sample of women in Puerto Rico.

As part of the events, the Medical Science Campus of the University of Puerto Rico with theImage sponsorship of the Institute of Puerto Rican Culture hosted an Art Festival, a full track of sessions discussing health promotion through the arts.  This event includes photo-based artist and Assistant Professor at Rutgers University, Nick Kline, who presents and exhibits his work.  In the series, Hate crimes in Puerto Rico, he features his work with local trans advocates in order to visualize their leaderships towards social change.  Health care professionals and medical students should experience health promotion thru art expression and interpretation as part of their studies in order to build sensibilities otherwise not acquired during their years of studies.

It is important to note, the presence that the Fenway Institute had during the conference in addition to the Network for LGBT Health Equity.  Mr. Harvey Makadon from the The National Center for LGBT Health Education who presented on LGBT issues, announced an upcoming webinar on LGBT health in Spanish with local UPR Professors, Dr. Carmen M. Velez Vega and Dr. Carlos Rodriguez Díaz.  The Webinar titled Calidad de cuidado para lesbianas, gays, bisexuales, transgéneros y transexuales: Eliminando la invisibilidad y las disparidades will take place on Thursday, April 4 starting at 2:00 PM EST and will discuss the unique health needs of LGBT people and the recommended ways to address those needs in.

“Awesome” Efforts in Puerto Rico Continue Pro LGBTT Health

In San Juan, Puerto Rico

By Juan Carlos Vega,
Blogging for the Citizens’ Alliance Pro LGBTTA Health of Puerto Rico
and the CDC-funded LGBT and Latino National Disparities Networks

Awesome! That is exactly what is happening in Puerto Rico pro LGBTT health.  Awesome local efforts, many with limited or no funding, continue to move an agenda forward to promote LGBTT health.  It is a very difficult accomplishment when we have planning meetings at 6:30pm, after finishing our regular paying jobs, or paying a sitter to participate in the gatherings.  However, the commitment is worth the results.  We are looking to educate our communities, students, government, and service providers regarding health needs and realities of LGBTT communities.  So here goes a blog to awesomeness!

During our October 2012 monthly member meeting, it was decided that current local volunteer efforts by the Citizen’s Alliance Pro LGBTTA Health would focus on maintaining a presence in social media platforms and participate in local and national conferences and events.  This will allow us to spread our mission and gather support for healthier LGBTT communities in Puerto Rico.

In January 2013, Alliance member, Sammy Arus, participated in the Creating Change Conference in Atlanta, Georgia, including the day-long Union=Fuerza National Latin@s Institute.  The gathering brought together a diverse group of LGBT Latin@s and allies from across the United States to foster supportive relationships and build capacity to advance LGBT Latin@ activism.  The event was sponsored by Lambda Legal, the National Gay & Lesbian Taskforce, and other national and local groups.

Last week, Alliance members, Margie Álvarez and Lissette Rodríguez, participated in the IX National Women’s Colloquium sponsored by the Women Studies Program  at the University of Puerto Rico-Cayey Campus.  The awesome program included sessions on building a local coalition to work on HIV+ women, women and literature, women in the Puerto Rican diaspora, trans women issues, and much much more!  Our support to the only gender studies program in the island is important.  Check out Margie’s blog from Cayey, Puerto Rico during the event!

The Citizens’ Alliance Pro LGBTTA Health of Puerto Rico participates with other government and research advocates pro LGBTT health in the IV Public Health Conference of Puerto Rico.

This coming week, the Alliance will be participating at the VI International Congress of Health Promoting Universities and the IV Public Health Conference of Puerto Rico in the Puerto Rico Convention Center.  We will proudly present in the panel Tobacco Control as a Catalyst for Policy Change: Data Collection Among LGBTT Communities in Puerto Rico which includes Alex Cabrera Serrano, Epidemiologist at the Department of Health of Puerto Rico Tobacco Control Program, who recently blogged the most recent LGBT tobacco control data from the Puerto Rico Behavioral Risk Factors Surveillance System.  Awesome community, university, and government collaboration!

In May, we will gather students from Dr. Elba Díaz-Toro’s course on Introduction to Population Sciences Research to lead a discussion at the University of Puerto Rico on the health needs of LGBTT communities in Puerto Rico titled Youth Forum on LGBTT Health.  The forum was submitted as a proposal for the IV Educational Conference Against Homophobia sponsored by the local group, Puerto Rico para Tod@s,   and will be the closing project for Dr. Díaz-Toro’s course.

Finally, our social media guru, Margie Álvarez, reported that the Alliance’s Facebook page had 1,053 visits between February 8 and 14 due to our postings and new content uploaded in our pages.  Jedi Librarian Awesome!  In addition, the Alliance’s Virtual Library of educational resources currently has over 125 downloadable documents pertaining to LGBTT health and environmental factors affecting our health.  This Spanish-English bilingual electronic library is an integral part of our website, which includes news, events, virtual opportunities, and other happenings pro LGBTT health in Puerto Rico.

When local professional boxer, Orlando Cruz, came out of the closet as gay in October 2012, it directly promoted healthy LGBTT communities through sports and coming out of the closet. Local newspaper, Primera Hora, posted on its front cover what became international news.

These awesome efforts are only until May 2013!!!  So who knows what will happen by the end of 2013 to promote LGBTT health in Puerto Rico.  This blog presents only one of the many community efforts happening in Puerto Rico pro LGBTT health and social justice issues.

All these education and sensibilization efforts are even more necessary as we recognize all the victims of crime and violence in Puerto Rico, especially, those most vulnerable including, women, children, LGBTT’s, Dominicans, and elders.  I personally want to send all my hope and support to all the human rights battles in Puerto Rico, especially the adoption fight by Alliance friend, health advocate, and University of Puerto Rico Medical Science Campus professor, Dr. Carmen Milagros Vélez.

Blogging for the Network: Sharing your local story!

 
By Juan Carlos Vega
Network for LGBT Health Equity Steering Committee Member.
Sending everyone tons of warm hugs from San Juan, Puerto Rico to cope with the cold weather!
 

My first blog ever was in February 2010 as a Network scholarship recipient for Creating Change in Dallas, Texas.  I was hesitant, concerned with proper grammar, looking for images to make it appealing, and making sure I was saying something relevant for a national audience.  Three years and 17 blogs later (some en español), I have been able to use it to discuss issues related to Latin@ and LGBT health in the U.S., LGBT health and social issues in Puerto Rico, and library and community organizing strategies to promote LGBT health.  I have always encouraged (with certain level of success) among other advocates in Puerto Rico to use the space to share stories, data, and announcements but I think people have the same feelings I had before my first post.  However, we have successfully documented health and social justice efforts in Puerto Rico since 2010.

I am delighted to see all the blogging on this fantastic virtual space, especially from the most recent contingency of bloggers supported by the Network to attend Creating Change in Atlanta, Georgia.  The blog entries capture local histories and struggles and provide a space for young LGBT’s of all colors to engage on health and social justice issues.  I envision them steering local movements, just like my friend Trudie Jackson and I have done in Arizona and Puerto Rico, respectively for a few years now.

Since its beginnings, the scope of blogs in this platform reflect our agreements and disagreements, wins and loses, exchanges on policy advocacy and the Network’s focus, examples of best practices and models, alerts, announcements, strategies, new publications, and many other aspects and opportunities pertaining to LGBT health.  I acknowledge the leadership and skills brought by Scout and Gustavo and their invaluable achievement to maintain this virtual repository of over 800 blogs that captures our history and our efforts pro LGBT health.

I urge all readers, to take a minute to write, to share local stories and opportunities, or just comment on whatever captures your attention.  Blog for the Network and share your story! If you are interested please email Daniella Matthews-Trigg at lgbthealthequity@gmail.com

CURRENT EFFORTS PRO LGBTT HEALTH IN PUERTO RICO

 

by Juan Carlos Vega, MLS.  

Reporting for the Citizens’ Alliance Pro LGBTTA Health of Puerto Rico, the National Latino Tobacco Control Network, and the Network for LGBT Health Equity.  Blogging from a TRANSforma Gathering of about 20 Trans women and a dozen LGBTTA researchers engaging in open conversation in an apartment in Santurce, a section of San Juan, Puerto Rico.

Local LGBTT community advocates and researchers continue to implement innovative strategies and research efforts to improve the health of LGBTT communities in Puerto Rico.  Here are some highlight of current and future local efforts.

The Committee for LGBT Issues of the Psychology Association of Puerto Rico, just published Volume 3, Number 1, 2012 issue of their electronic Bulletin, which include articles written by researchers and students alike on issues like stigma and bisexuality.  The articles, written in Spanish, include:

  • Between the street and the home: ambiguity and contradiction among Dominican sexual workers serving the tourist community by Mark B. Padilla, PhD, MPH, Assistant Professor, Department of Health Behavior and Health Education, Adjunct Assistant Professor of Anthropology, University of Michigan.
  • Diversity Within Diversity: a brief discussion about the complexity regarding bisexuality by Caleb Esteban-Reyes, B.A., Student Committee Member
  • Law vs. Politics: A Dichotomy presented to the Anti-Discrimination Committee of the U.S. Department of Justice in 2011 by Sophia Isabel Marrero, TRANSforma Consultant
  • Structural Violence as a Social Determinant of Health: Its Effects on Trans Individuals presented to the Committee for LGBT Issues of the Psychology Association of Puerto Rico during its 58th Convention in Michigan in 2011 by Sheilla Rodríguez Madera, Ph.D.

To see the full E-Bulletin click here: Diversidad E-Bulletin Vol 3 Num 1.  For more information on the Committee for LGBT Issues of the Psychology Association of Puerto Rico contact José A. Toro (jose.toro4@upr.edu) or Sheilla Rodríguez Madera (sheilla.rodriguez@upr.edu)

The TRANSforma Research Project, sponsored by the National Institutes of Health, looks into the social context of transgender and transsexual individuals in Puerto Rico. An interdisciplinary team, closely collaborating with the local Trans community, looks to explore at the influences of these social contexts and its health impact in body modification practices.  The project uses various methods to compile data in local Trans communities, including ethnographic observations within a social context, qualitative interviews, and a survey. For more information call (787) 248-1986.  They need condom and lub donations for outreach efforts!

Members of the Citizens’ Alliance Pro LGBTT Health of Puerto Rico are going to New Orleans, Louisiana for the National Latino Tobacco Control Network Face-to-Face Meeting on April 16, 2012.  Along with other CDC National Networks, we will be participating in the Promising Practices to Eliminate Tobacco-Related Disparities: The Power of Communities Conference this upcoming April 17-18, 2012.  Dra. Elba Diaz-Toro from the Medical Science Campus at the University of Puerto Rico and this blogger will be available on Tuesday, April 17, 4:15pm – 5:00pm and Wednesday, April 18, 8:00am – 8:45am to answer all your questions related to the Poster Presentation titled Community Organizing and Leadership Building in Puerto Rico Pro LGBTT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transsexual & Transgender) Health.  We look forward to share success stories and strategies with other CDC-funded National Networks who are gathering in New Orleans.  For all the details about the conference visit: http://healthedcouncil.org/promisingpractices_2012.html

For more information on the Citizens’ Alliance Pro LGBTT Health of Puerto Rico efforts and collaborations visit: http://saludlgbttpr.webs.com/

SAVE THE DATE  |  June 29-30, 2012  |  Location in Puerto Rico to be determined!

2nd LGBTT Health Summit of Puerto Rico: the Stigma and the Health Impact in Our Communities.  Visit http://saludlgbttpr.webs.com/ for the most up to date information.