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 the 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.