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U.S. Panel Suggests Research Into Causes and Prevalence of Health Issues Facing Gays
The New York Times
By ROBERT PEAR
Published: March 31, 2011
WASHINGTON — The federal government should systematically collect demographic data on gay, lesbian and transgender people and should conduct biomedical research to understand why they are more likely to have certain chronic conditions, the National Academy of Sciences said Thursday.
In a report requested by the National Institutes of Health, the academy proposed an ambitious research agenda to investigate the prevalence and causes of obesity, depression, cancer, heart disease and other conditions among gay people.
Federal officials had asked the academy’s Institute of Medicine to identify gaps in research on the health of gay Americans. Dr. Robert O. Graham, the chairman of the panel that did the study, said that was impossible.
“The available evidence on the health of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people is sparse,” said Dr. Graham, a professor of family medicine at the University of Cincinnati. “Researchers need to do much more than simply filling gaps.”
The panel, appointed by the Institute of Medicine, said the government should finance research to develop standardized measures of sexual orientation and gender identity — “one’s basic sense of being a man, woman or other gender, such as transgender.”
Gay people often face “barriers to equitable health care,” decline to seek care in times of need and receive substandard care when they seek it, the report said.