Is This The Biggest 48 Hours Ever for LGBT Health? Part 2: HHS Recommendations to Improve the Health of LGBT Communities


by Emilia Dunham

Program Associate

This has been such a huge week for LGBT health as you probably know!

Some tremendous news that came from today, the last day of LGBT Health Awareness week, was the release of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ recommendations: “Actions to Improve the Health and Well-Being of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Communities.”

These recommendations are a summary of the efforts taken by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to improve the lives of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people, as well as recommendations for future action. The recommendations were developed in response to the Presidential Memorandum on Hospital Visitation, which, in addition to addressing the rights of patients to designate visitors regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity, directed the Secretary to explore additional steps HHS could take to improve the lives of LGBT people.

These recommendations come after the recognition we are all aware of that LGBT people have been denied the compassionate services they deserve. That is now changing. HHS continues to make significant progress toward protecting the rights of every American to access quality care, recognizing that diverse populations have distinctive needs. Safeguarding the health and well-being of all Americans requires a commitment to treating all people with respect while being sensitive to their differences.

Check out the link for amazing recommendations of HHS: http://www.hhs.gov/secretary/about/LGBThealth.html

These actions address a number of health disparities affecting our community including the expansion of their Equal Employment Opportunity Policy, Non-discrimination Policy, Hospital Visitation rights, as well committees established to identify and remedy gaps in LGBT health, data collection programs and policies. These actions also specifically target key areas of disparities including HIV/AIDS, tobacco prevalence, bullying, adoption, aging and homelessness to name a few. We may be including in more grant opportunities and all grantees of HHS could have LGBT cultural competency in the future! With the follow-through of these recommendations, unprecedented in the history of LGBT health, our community’s health, wellbeing and livelihood will be dramatically changed for the better.

This is just the tip of the iceberg so we urge you to check out these recommendations to see how these can affect you, your families, your programs and our communities.

Published by Emilia Dunham, MPP, MBA

Emilia Dunham is currently a Project Manager at MassHealth/Department of Public Health, and formerly the Project Manager of the Life Skills project at The Fenway Institute, an HIV intervention study for young transgender women. Emilia worked at Fenway for 7 years, first as a Quality Control and Regulatory Assistant mainly involved with biomedical HIV prevention trials, before serving as the Program Associate for The Network for LGBT Health Equity, a network instrumental in many national LGBT health policy improvements. She is also involved with the Massachusetts Transgender Political Coalition, serving as a Steering Committee member and the Policy Committee Co-Chair, an organization largely responsible for the recent passage of the Trans Rights Bill. Additionally she serves as a member of the Massachusetts Commission on Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Youth, Co-Chair of the Recommendations Committee. Emilia received a Bachelor’s degree from Northeastern University. There she served as President of the LGBTQ student group where she planned programs such as Pride Week, Transgender Day of Remembrance, and AIDS Week. In addition, she advocated for LGBTQ inclusive policies and programming on campus such as a Gender Neutral Housing program, an LGBTQ Center and the expansion of Women’s Studies to Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies. Emilia recently earned a Master of Public Policy and Master of Business Administration in health policy and management from the Brandeis Heller School School for Social Policy and Management.

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