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June Message from the Directors: Happy Pride Month!

a group of young LGBTQ people celebrate pride month with a rainbow flag

June is Pride Month and a time for us to reinforce the CCTS’ commitment to advancing health equity.

LGBTQ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer) individuals suffer many health problems at higher rates than the general population. These health disparities include the domains of both infectious and noninfectious chronic diseases, as well as psychosocial health and social problems, such as violence victimization.

Despite the growing recognition of these health disparities, the research base in understanding both biological and social influence factors (e.g., social marginalization, discrimination, or unequal access to health care), is less robust, due, in part to the fact that questions of sexual orientation or gender identity were often ignored as part of health research (other than topics addressing HIV or sexually transmitted infections) until the past 25 years. Thus, there is a substantial amount of catching up to do and an ambitious research agenda is needed to advance our understanding of mechanisms of action, etiologies, and importantly, developing and testing interventions that can help to overcome the health threats to these populations.

Research with LGBTQ populations can be challenging, though, methodologically. For example, how does one create a sampling frame for populations that may have more fluid definitional qualities; or how does one address the statistical and analytical challenges of small and marginalized populations? How do we ensure good participant inclusion and sensitivity in our research to ensure good representation of all populations, appropriate tailoring of materials and good engagement and retention?

The CCTS has been at the forefront of trying to help researchers address these challenges, and we’d like to remind people to refer to and use the CCTS Priority Populations toolkits developed by our Community Engagement Core as excellent resources to help improve the robustness of our research and with our research partners. We are committed to helping to improve the quality and the reach of our research to reduce health disparities!

-Robin Mermelstein, PhD & Richard Novak, MD