Cross-posting · Quit Tips


HealthEquity Logo
CDC’s Office on Smoking and Health seeks ex-smokers
to be in Tips From Former Smokers campaign!
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Office on Smoking and Health are recruiting additional candidates to be considered for an upcoming national education campaign, Tips From Former Smokers (Tips). This campaign is similar to previous campaigns seen here, real people who have had life-changing, smoking-related health problems will be featured. They are conducting a national search to find people with compelling stories who are willing to participate in their campaign.

The CDC and OSH are seeking people from all backgrounds, and are particularly looking for candidates who are of Asian descent. All applicants must be tobacco-free for at least 6 months.

They are looking for ex-smokers who:

·         Have or have had colorectal cancer that was linked to cigarette smoking (ages 30–65).
·         Have or have had macular degeneration that was linked to cigarette smoking (ages 40–65).
·         Used cigars with cigarettes or used cigarillos or little cigars with or without cigarettes, thinking cigars, cigarillos and little cigars were healthier than cigarettes and developed a serious health condition while smoking (ages 20-60).
·         Used e-cigarettes or smokeless tobacco for at least a year while continuing to smoke some cigarettes; and
·         Thought using e-cigarettes or smokeless tobacco to cut back on some cigarettes would be good for your health; and
·         Despite cutting back, you were later diagnosed with a serious health condition.
All individuals should be comfortable sharing their story publicly and be able to articulate how their smoking-related condition has changed their life. The association between smoking and their condition must be clear, and candidates’ physicians will be contacted to verify that smoking contributed to the condition.

The CDC and OSH would like for you to help distribute this flyer (below). Please feel free to email it to anyone who might be willing to help CDC recruit for this campaign. The flyer can be posted in public areas or shared with anyone who may know people who fit the criteria above.

Feel free to print and share! click to enlarge
Feel free to print and share! click to enlarge
If you have questions, please send them to the CDC representative, Crystal Bruce,
Please put “Recruitment Question” in the subject line.
Cross-posting · Huffington Post LGBT Wellness

I Did It: Forgiveness

liz margolies

Liz Margolies, L.C.S.W. 

Founder and Executive Director

National LGBT Cancer Network


As published on Huffington Post’s new LGBT Wellness blog, see original at:

When someone suggested I try forgiveness as my next “I Did It” challenge, my first thought was a silent and loud NO. Why should I forgive that evil ex-lover who stole my money and tried to damage my relationship with my child? I was startled to realize how much venom I still carried for a person I broke up with eight years ago. This stale resentment is surely not harming her because we have absolutely no contact. It is all mine. “Resentment is like drinking poison and then waiting for it to kill your enemies.” (Nelson Mandela).

We all have that ex, the one we fell for hard and trusted with our every thought and dollar. Our love was like a lightning bolt and six months later, she moved to New York City to live with me and my young son. She had never lived anywhere but her small hometown, and it was not an easy adjustment for either of us. New York is a humbling place with bad parking options, making previously big fish feel very small in this gigantic pond. I felt personally responsible for all the ways she struggled here and she agreed it was my fault, as it was my city and I didn’t want to leave it.

I brought her into my social life and my family and together we made new friends, got a slew of pets and shared home renovation projects. We made a life together for over nine years, during which our finances became more entangled and our compromises more entrenched.

It fell apart as quickly as it began, starting with a stupid fight that got uglier than usual. She became way too angry with me that day and then we never quite stopped. We fought for seven months straight, even as we realized we were screaming all the love out of each other. When the last shred of love was gone (or buried), I initiated the break-up talk. She didn’t resist.

Then things got really unpleasant — financially, romantically and with my son. There were lawyers, lots of them. It was hideous.

That was eight years ago. She ultimately moved out of the state and out of my life. My son and I made it through and I have found true love; I am now married to my passionate soulmate. So, if living well is the best revenge, this bitterness should be over. It’s not, though.

Resentment isn’t good for our health. Each time we go over the list of their crimes against us, our blood pressure and heart rate spike. Clutching our grudges stresses the immune system, making us more vulnerable to illness. “Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; you are the one getting burned.” (Buddha). Ouch.

Why would I hold onto a blazing piece of coal? Because it keeps me labeled as the innocent burned party, leaving her as the only bad guy. If I drop the coal, I suddenly see how singed she was also. Breaking up is simply painful. For everyone. And few of us behave well in that pain.

The Internet is filled with lists of the five or seven or 12 steps to reach forgiveness, but for me, it always comes down to one straightforward task: finding compassion for the other person, despite my urge to demonize them for their crimes.

Oh, suddenly it is seems so obvious to me: only someone so terribly unhappy would behave so poorly. When I stop counting all the compromises I made to try to make her happy, I see the too-high price she paid for our relationship. Living in New York with me was a daily struggle for her — one I could not fix and was unwilling to end. After nine years, she snapped. She had to leave me and she had to leave New York to find herself again. Today, I want to allow her to have recovered herself, no matter what it took. Heaven knows I wasn’t perfect either.

To forgive is to set a prisoner free and discover that the prisoner was you.” (Lewis B. Smedes).

Follow Liz Margolies, L.C.S.W. on Twitter:

Cross-posting · Feature · Huffington Post LGBT Wellness · Uncategorized

I Did It! A Colonoscopy





As the founder and executive director of the National LGBT Cancer Network, I know full well how important it is to keep up with my own cancer screenings. Early detection saves lives. Yet, like many other LGBT people, I resist and postpone it.

Getting regular checkups and colon cancerscreening is the best way to prevent colorectal cancer. Finding and removing colon polyps helps prevent colon cancer, and if they’re found early, a cure is far more likely. Colonoscopies are recommendedevery 10 years, beginning at age 50, or sooner if you have a family history of colorectal cancer.

Most studies show that LGBT people have significantly lower colorectal cancer screening rates, especially transgender people and people of color. All our usual barriers to care (stigma, lack of health insurance, etc.) make it difficult, but really, who ever wants a camera up their butt? In the interest of getting more of us to do this, why don’t you follow me through the process?

Two months before the procedure: It wasn’t hard to get an appointment, but it took me two months to gather my resolve to call and set it up. I have had two colonoscopies in the past, both decent experiences with two perfectly nice gastroenterologists, so I don’t fully know what my barrier was this time around, but after my best friend recommended her doctor, I finally got myself to call. The point is: Do whatever it takes to get over the resistance.

One week before the procedure: I can’t believe how much time I am spending thinking about this, preoccupied with “preparation” day, a Sunday, during which I may eat absolutely nothing, drink only clear (not red or purple) liquids and take two rounds of laxatives, guaranteeing an evening seated on the toilet.

Several days in advance, I load up on all the interesting clear liquids I can find in my local market, sparing no expense. I buy fancy artisanal juices I usually scoff at. Variety also seems essential, and I purchase three boxes of blue Jell-O, which I plan to cube and eat with a fork, and a broth that means I can use a spoon. I decide to save the broth for “dinner.”

I make no plans for Sunday, even turning down an afternoon party invitation, as though being hungry is going to be a very time-consuming activity. (Did I just say “consuming”?) Yes, I am obsessing about food all week, interspersing it with anticipatory self-pity for my promised hunger.

Preparation day:

7:30 AM: With total defiance, I put 2 teaspoons of milk in my morning coffee. No, coffee was not on the “approved” list, but neither did I find it on the “forbidden” list, and I was not going to suffer a caffeine-withdrawal headache in addition to my starvation. I shower and weigh myself for a later post-fasting comparison.

9:17 AM: I make a huge bottle of herbal tea. I am feeling triumphantly not hungry, although my entire consciousness is on my stomach. I can beat this!

9:51 AM: I’m hungry! Uh, oh.

Noon: How can this be? I am simultaneously incredibly full (of tea) and still hungry. My body clearly knows the difference between liquids and solids, and it is not fooled. I must crave nutrients. I have downed 32 ounces of tea and one bottle of fancy lemonade while waiting for the Jell-O to solidify. I invent some errands and leave the house. I need some distance from the refrigerator.

1:00 PM: The blue Jell-O is gross yet oddly satisfying. I devour it, shoving my spoon directly in the large bowl, forgoing the civilized plan of cubing and forking. Within half an hour, I am myself again, sated, living a typical Sunday afternoon where I happen to not be eating anything. I read The New York Times.

6:00 PM: Having taking the first dose of laxatives (and having no dinner to prepare), I distract myself by binge-watching Scandal, waiting for the urge to purge. I take my second dose at 8 PM, never leaving my seat at the TV. This is a breeze!

9:30 PM: I begin my trips to the bathroom, pausing the show when I go. Unlike when I’ve had a stomach flu or food poisoning, there are no cramps. Easy and painless.

Midnight: I go to bed. Triumphant. Empty.

Procedure day:

7:30 AM: No coffee today; not even a sip of water permitted. I feel a bit weak and definitely thirsty. I shower and weigh myself. I lost only 2 pounds since yesterday. Only now do I begin to worry about what the colonoscopy might find. I hope I’m OK.

11:30 AM: It’s done! The sweet gastroenterologist (this field attracts the nicest clinicians!) introduced himself by apologizing for my hard night. In all, I tell him, it wasn’t even that bad. They wrapped me in blankets to keep me warm, and the anesthesiologist sent me into a lovely sleep before anyone laid a hand on my butt. By the way, their forms never asked about marital status but simply asked the name of anyone I designated to receive medical information about me.

12:30 PM: A friend met me (escorts are required), and we went to the closest diner for a huge omelet. I am perfectly healthy and can put off a repeat performance for another 10 years. Today I don’t even dread it.

For information on where you can find LGBT-welcoming free or low-cost cancer screening facilities near you, check out the directory of the National LGBT Cancer Network.


Liz Margolies, L.C.S.W.Founder and Executive Director
The Nation LGBT Cancer Network
As published on Huffington Post’s new LGBT Wellness blog, see original at:
Follow Liz Margolies, L.C.S.W. on Twitter:
Cross-posting · Feature · Presentations · social media · Staff/Program Updates · White House

Network Staff in First Agency-Wide “I AM: Trans People Speak” Video, also Great Public Health Tool

Imageby Emilia Dunham

Guest Blogger / Former Network Staff / The Fenway Institute Study Coordinator

I am very pleased to announce the release of Fenway Health’s contribution to the  “I AM: Trans People Speak” campaign, which I coordinated through my new study for young transgender women, the LifeSkills project of The Fenway Institute.

ImageIf you’re not familiar, the “I AM” project is an amazingly powerful campaign raising awareness about the diversity that exists within transgender communities. It gives a voice to transgender individuals, as well as their families, friends, and allies. In the video’s premier, I hosted at Fenway, LifeSkills Investigator Sari Reisner discusses how it is also a brilliant public health campaign.

Research shows how projects like the “I AM” videos are fantastic examples of how media campaigns are widely recognized as useful public health tools, and that focused, well-executed health media campaigns can change some health knowledge, beliefs, attitudes, and behaviors. (Randolph & Viswanath, 2004) (Noar, 2006) – Sari Reisner, 11/14/2012

Demonstrating the impact of this campaign, our event listing and video were cross-posted in multiple locations including MTPC, GLAADBoston.comThe Rainbow Times and GLAAD! Even more significantly, major news outlets like CBS have picked up the campaign! A few professors and students have mentioned their plans to use in their classrooms as well. Just think about the incredible impact this campaign could have!

Making this fun, moving and theoretically informed video even better, the Network’s own Daniella Matthews-Trigg, Gustavo Torrez and *your’s truly* appear at various points in the video! As you know the Network is all about how the effects of social media can be tools for advocacy in public health, and this is a prime example that’s just in time for Transgender Awareness Week. It’s ok if you watch just to see our lovely faces, but also consider sending around to your friends, family, classmate/students and colleagues for your part in Transgender Awareness Week or make your own video after watching some on the website.

As we see how even the White House is recognizing Transgender Awareness Week, and that folks like Scout have a seat at the White House table for trans policy initiatives, it’s important to have positive public health tools like this campaign to help educate along the way.

Noar SM. (2006). A 10-year retrospective of research in health mass media campaigns: Where do we go from here? Journal of Health Communication, 11, 21-42.

Randolph W, Viswanath K. (2004). Lessons learned from public health mass media campaigns: Marketing health in a crowded media world. Annual Review of Public Health, 25, 419-437.

Cross-posting · LGBT Policy

The Real Verdict? We Want to Be Healthier


Scout, Ph.D.

Director, The Fenway Institute’s Network for LGBT Health Equity

Cross-post: The

Every health professional and every LGBT advocate I know was holding their breath this morning, waiting for the Supreme Court decision on the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). A little after ten the cheering could be heard across the land; ACA was upheld!

The ACA is the foundation of long needed health equality for LGBT people. It includes historic non-discrimination provisions; is the mechanism under which new LGBT data collection is being rolled out; and the leading implementation plan, the National Prevention Strategy, explicitly names LGBT people as a class needing equal opportunity for health.

Beyond the historic LGBT inclusion – our health disparities just underscore how much we need this expanded coverage. Under ACA people who are not covered by their partners’ health insurance can obtain it at a fair price, so can the most stigmatized and thus poorest among us. Transgender people cannot be denied coverage for being transgender (like I was last year). People with pre-existing conditions will no longer be excluded or have unreasonable premiums. People with HIV can obtain drugs less expensively and can qualify for Medicaid more easily.

CDC has recently been running a series of reports on the top ten public health accomplishments of the last century. In my opinion, ACA created a change that is bigger than even that inclusion and coverage expansion, a fundamental shift that is no less than the first top public health accomplishment of this century: the spotlight on how helping us be healthier is the real solution to our healthcare crisis.

Analysts estimate a whopping 75% of our healthcare costs come from avoidable chronic diseases. Most of these diseases can be avoided by addressing three issues: eating better, exercising more, and not smoking. Everyone agrees our healthcare costs are spiraling upwards. Government analysts project they will only continue to double, even triple in coming years. Everyone agrees that reform is needed in health care, luckily ACA attempts to address those problems directly.

What’s news to many is that the biggest solution to our health care crisis might be as easy to understand as: help Americans eat better, exercise more, and stop smoking.

Even better, evidence shows we want to be healthier. Public health officials now understand how structural barriers, often barriers the government can affect, really impact our ability to be healthier. If bike lanes are built, biking goes up so much major cities are now dealing with driver backlash. If greens are cheaper than fast food, people eat many more vegetables. If smoking is not allowed indoors, more people quit than by any other single intervention. Whatever the Supreme Court had ruled today we know this: government policies have a big impact on our ability to be healthy.

In my role as the Director for The Fenway Institute’s Network for LGBT Health Equity I travel the country working with states and groups running projects to make local policies more health friendly. Maybe others don’t know this, but I love seeing the handiwork of the ACA’s National Prevention Fund everywhere: Banks in Minnesota running a wellness campaign; new farmers markets in South Carolina; new bike lanes in Atlanta; an LGBT wellness project in DC; the LGBT pride ads from CDC’s smoking cessation campaign. That’s a long-needed first! Yes, we smoke more than others. (Got stigma?)

All of this work adds to the wave of health already moving across the land. For example city-wide bike sharing in Minneapolis, DC, Boston and next up, New York City. Do you know the White House even has a bike-sharing station inside their visitor gate? Or last year’s commitment by the Secretary of Transportation they would now prioritize biking and walking as much as driving. (Got sidewalks? I don’t yet.) The other day one of my favorite food shows, Chopped, was highlighting public school lunch ladies and grading their dishes on how fresh and healthy they were. How often have the words “fresh and healthy” even been in the same sentence as “school lunches”?

Everywhere you turn, while young and old, even while sick, people are making daily decisions to be healthier. Behind the scenes, ACA is helping state and local governments make policy decisions to take down the barriers so we can be healthier.

Not only is being healthier the single most important step to curbing healthcare costs – it affects each of us on such a profound daily level. I sweated through a morning bike ride to the train yesterday, and it was hard to ignore how unexpectedly happy I was for the whole rest of the commute.

Yes, today we all rightly cheer the Supreme Court decision. As a public health professional I also cheer the bigger verdict, one the Supreme Court could not ever take away from us. Now we know we need to be healthier, we want to be healthier, and government policies can help us achieve that goal as quickly as possible.

Cross-posting · LGBT Policy · Tobacco Policy

The Shame of Pride

Ricky Hill
Doctoral student, instructor, dandy
Cross-posted from OK4RJ: Oklahomans for Reproductive Justice

It’s the most beautiful time of the year, y’all.

This is the time of year where queers all over this lovely country of ours put on their shortest of shorts, their most glittery of glitter, their most bronze of bronzer, and work on making their hair as high as humanly possible. We primp, we preen, we curate the most fabulous ensembles in hope of catching the eye of that gender fucking Femme who works at the only bookstore in town that carries Curve (that’s still a thing, right? Okay, Original Plumbing, then).This is the time of year that we all wait so patiently for: The time of year where we are allowed to be bold and brash.

The time of year where we put on our rainbows, grab fistfuls of money, and dance in the streets.

That’s right, queermos. You know it, you love it: PRIDE!

It’s Pride Month! The one time of year when we’re allowed to walk down the streets in gold lamé without fear! The one time of year we get to be seen in the daytime! The one time of year when you can assume everyone wants to fuck you without looking like a narcissist! And y’all, you know Pride is good, because it’s one of the seven deadly sins.

But with Pride comes one of my least favorite things in the world: Pride Festivals.

You think I’d love them, because they’re chock full of free shit, gaymo performances, daytime drinking, and sweaty dancing. But you know what? You’re wrong. To me, Pride Festivals have become one of the most hypocritical events to happen to queer communities in recent years.

I know, I know. That’s maybe a controversial opinion to have, but hear me out.

Pride is something positive that originated out of something super shitty. It’s a self-affirming visibility project built up as a response to physical and psychic attacks on queerness. That part I can get behind.

The issue I take with Pride Festivals across the country is the rampant sponsorship put up by addictive and dangerous products. Don’t act like you don’t know.

Let’s look at Oklahoma City Pride as an example.

(This is the part where I make a disclaimer about using Oklahoma City as an example. This is not about blasting OKC’s Pride. I think that the organization has an amazing mission, and the amount of passion and drive it takes to pull something like Pride off is commendable. This is about larger issues related to equity and justice when we’re talking about LGBTQ communities, and is applicable to pretty much ALL Pride celebrations nationwide. Okay? Okay.)

Who pays for Pride? Not like you don’t already know from the mega floats that appear in the parade, or the banners hanging up at every bar. But really, who? Based on what I can tell, it’s almost all booze companies who foot the bill.

Page 29 of Oklahoma City’s Pride Guide lists the festival sponsors who are responsible for making Pride fiscally possible. Who are listed in the top five? Coors Light, Boulevard Brewing Company, Miller Lite, Tecate, and Bud Light.

Yup. Those are all big alcohol companies.

Interesting, especially given the fact that LGBTQ folks have higher addiction rates than the general population. And we’re not talking like, a little bit higher. The Pride Institute estimates that about 45% of our community participates in problem drinking behaviors.

45%!!?? That’s almost half!

(Fun Fact: We smoke like we drink, too.)

So, with epidemic-like numbers like those, don’t you think that we’d be trying to decrease risky behavior rather than encourage it?

I think so. And I don’t think it’s unreasonable to demand that our community’s health and well-being be taken into consideration when putting together this festival. Where are the members of the Oklahoma City Pride Board when these sponsorship decisions are being made? For an organization whose mission statement is “to provide leadership to meet the needs of the LGBT community through awareness, health, and educational services,” I think they need to really be held accountable to that. We’re not doing anyone any good if we’re only paying lip service to mission statements.

So, queers, it’s time. Let’s start pushing back. Let’s celebrate what Pride is really about:

Be a movement, not a market!

Ricky would like to wish all of you a very lovely Pride month, and looks forward to dancing with you soon. Follow Ricky on Twitter: @prettyrickyroo

Cross-posting · Netroots Nation · Resources · social media · Staff/Program Updates

Taking your internet-know-how to the NEXT LEVEL

Daniella Matthews-Trigg
Program Associate
Reporting from Netroots Nation 2012

Have you ever felt overwhelmed by the amount of cool blogs out there that you want to read? I have often wished to myself, “If only there was some way to combine the updated posts of all of the blogs I want to read…” WELL. Guess what? THERE IS. And I only found out about them yesterday (probably a million years after most people), at the Netroots Nation LGBT Pre-Con, thanks to the friendly and “plugged-in” people I was sitting next to.

One thing I have already learned at Netroots Nation? The people here know their stuff. And by “stuff”, I mean “techie things I have not even thought of”. SCORE.

Programs that allow you to aggregate all of the blogs out there that you want to follow: (Each are a bit different, so you can find the one that is the best for you!)




And, in terms of learning new things… a bit of blogging advice from the LGBT blogosphere:

From Pam Spaulding, of Pam’s House Blend

–       Use “Witty, pithy and short statements”

–       Don’t be afraid to cross post!

–       Make note of the audience that you are intending to write for. Tailor your post to the style of the blog that you are writing for and do not assume that people know anything about your issues (spell out acronyms!)

On How to Create a Dedicated Following, by Joe.My.God

–       Don’t be allowed to welcome feedback and content from readership (such as links, photos, etc.)

–       Try to make the blog as collaborative as possible

–       Create open threads, it creates ownership and investment in the site for readers

–       Be very generous with link sources (“Spread the link love”)

Cross-posting · Data · Puerto Rico · Uncategorized

Library Advocacy Skills for Health Justice in Puerto Rico

By Juan Carlos Vega, MLS, Activist Librarian & Information Consultant.  Article first published in SALIS News Vol.31 No.3 Fall 2011 – www.salis.orgGuest blogger and Steering Committee Member for the Network for LGBT Health Equity.

Someone once told me that my self-designated title, Activist Librarian, is a redundant one. Throughout our history, librarians have advocated for many issues pertaining to education, information access, copyright issues, and others. More recently, we face issues dealing with the relevance of library spaces and print books, since the emergence of the e-book and other current technologies have taken hold. Our profession is at the forefront of many local and national advocacy and policy issues. Although there may be a level of redundancy, my title comes from the need to show the world that librarians engage in more than cataloging books and providing assistance at a reference desk. My work as an Activist Librarian vigorously engages my information skills for social and health justice causes and community advocacy in Puerto Rico and among disadvantaged groups in the U.S.A.

In October 2010, I read a blog post from the Future Librarians for Intellectual Freedom, a group of library and information studies students who are interested in promoting intellectual freedom and social responsibility in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, that stated: “Social equality issues such as access to information, documentation of society, and free distribution of knowledge are core principles of modern libraries and archives. However, these principles are often de-accentuated in the day-to-day management of libraries and archives and information professionals can find themselves detached from a social justice perspective.” This post immediately resonated with my primary goals as a librarian wanting to disseminate information for healthier communities. My purpose as an Activist Librarian was to translate into action and steps to create change, information that otherwise would get lost among the information bombardment that we encounter every day. My title continues to be a direct action as a community advocate utilizing librarian skills.

Tobacco control has provided the framework to engage in other issues like Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Transsexual (LGBTT) equity, family health, obesity, and hate crimes. It was the basis from where the first LGBTT Community Health Survey of Puerto Rico: 2009-2011 was developed. We wanted to learn the smoking prevalence among this marginalized community. As of today, the survey showed a difference between the general population and the LGBTT communities in the U.S.A. in socio-demographic descriptive data, general health, tobacco use (39.7%) and some other health risk factors like alcohol consumption (64.8%). Due to this effort, the Puerto Rico Department of Health has included the LGBTT community as a population in disparity in its tobacco control strategic plans and has begun collecting gender identity and sexual orientation data in the local Quitline, the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveil-lance Survey (BRFSS), and other surveys.

National and international organizations like Substance Abuse Librarians & Information Specialists (SALIS) Association, the National Latino Tobacco Control Network (NLTCN), the Network for LGBT Health Equity, the Latino Commission on AIDSThe Praxis Project, Lambda Legal, and Movement Matters have played a vital role in supporting local health initiatives and in my quest to disseminate current trends and models, publication development and promotion, conference and webinars opportunities, funding availability, and federal standards to follow. They are the portals to continue my work as a librarian in local communities while contributing to the national and local public health debate.

In March 2011, in coordination with volunteer community members, we put together the 1st LGBTT Health Summit of Puerto Rico. I managed all the required coordination using my library skills for information dissemination, publication development, use of current technologies, and integrating multicultural and multilingual perspectives. After several years of engaging in tobacco control in Puerto Rico, we were able to move to health and social justice work with over 140 participants, 36 panelists, and the support from national, local, health, and government entities that made this a historical success.

As seen in this photo, relationship building was a key element when outreaching to Latino/a communities present in the diverse crowd that participated in the 1st LGBTT Health Summit of Puerto Rico. Tobacco control groups like NLTCN, the Network for LGBT Health Equity, and Legacy Foundation were essential partners in this endeavor.

Librarians and information specialists need to prove our relevance today, evolve in our information gathering and dissemination skills, and engage interest from users. For the last four and half years I have developed relationships with researchers, community members, local coalitions, university students and professors, non-profit organizations, volunteers, and even try to show my nephews that being a librarian is a cool and wonderful profession. It has taken time to build these relationships, but my personal and professional investment has provided me with the opportunity to really understand the local perspective and what are their information needs to move towards healthier communities.

APHA · Cross-posting

Improving Health Disparities Research (and Integrating LGBT Health National Data Collection)

Crossposted from


By Dr. Howard Koh, HHS Assistant Secretary for Health

This year we have achieved important milestones in our commitments to reduce racial and ethnic health disparities, including the release of Healthy People 2020 and the National Prevention Strategy, as well as the launch of the HHS Action Plan to Reduce Racial and Ethnic Health Disparities.

Today, we are achieving yet another milestone, by implementing an important provision of the Affordable Care Act that will improve the collection of data on HHS-sponsored surveys. With this advance, we as a nation can better understand and target health disparities and ultimately move toward eliminating them.

After reviewing the more than 400 public comments we received on draft standards proposed last June, we are now publishing final standards for data collection and reportingon race, ethnicity, sex, primary language and disability status. Previously, identifying and reducing disparities has been limited by a lack of uniformity, specificity, and quality in data collection and reporting.  Now, consistent methods for collecting and reporting health data will help us to better characterize and compare the nature of health problems in targeted populations. These new data standards, required by the Affordable Care Act, represent a powerful new set of tools to move us closer to our vision of a nation free of disparities in health and health care.

Assistant Secretary of HHS, Dr. Howard Koh

With respect to race and ethnicity, we can now collect more data on key groups. For example, by adding Mexican American and Chicano/a, Puerto Rican, Cuban, and Other Hispanic Latino/a or Spanish origin as explicit categories on all HHS-sponsored health surveys, we can better capture, understand and act upon the specific challenges presented by each ethnic group — challenges that would otherwise be lost under broader terms, like “Hispanic” or “Latino.”  Such detail could possibly shed light on health problems such as initial studies that suggest the diabetes-related mortality rate for Mexican Americans and Puerto Ricans may be twice as high as that seen for Cuban Americans.

With respect to disability and primary language, this announcement also breaks new ground. These first- ever uniform disability standards will ultimately improve researchers’ abilities to monitor and track health disparities in this critical public health area. And, for the first time, we can collect in a standardized way, information of the primary language spoken by a person or in a household.

Separately, we are continuing to implement efforts that will ultimately allow integration of questions on lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) health into national HHS data collection efforts.  Expanding data collection to include information on the health of the LGBT population is important to understanding and tackling disparities.

The Department’s data collection efforts under these new standards will continue to ensure privacy protection and apply all appropriate information security safeguards in the collection, analysis, and sharing of data.

All these advances collectively strengthen the critical information by which we, as a nation, identify and address disparities in the future. For more on the final data standards on race, ethnicity, sex, primary language and disability status, please visit


Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus to FDA: Remove Menthol!

Our friends at the Asian Pacific Partners for Empowerment, Advocacy and Leadership

 (APPEAL) had another recent great success with organizing a petitioned letter to the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus (CAPAC) requesting they ask FDA to remove menthol.

With a great number of signatures (including the Network’s), CAPAC did write a letter to FDA not only asking that menthol be removed but providing recommendations on further reducing tobacco use in diverse communities.  You can see the letter here: CAPAC Menthol Letter. Now, we will wait and see if FDA moves on menthol.

This is a great show of collaboration led by APPEAL, and we congratulate their successful efforts!