Report: Study of gay, transgender health needed

Published: March 31, 2011

Scientists only recently learned how certain diseases affect women differently than men, and blacks differently than whites. Now a major new report says it’s time to study the unique health needs of gay and transgender people, too.

Stigma often keeps lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people from seeking health care – and when they do, there’s little research to guide doctors in their treatment, the Institute of Medicine reported Thursday.

Changing that starts with a seemingly simple step: Researchers should start asking people about their sexual orientation and gender identity, just as they routinely ask about race and ethnicity, in all government-funded health studies, the panel concluded.

The report is intended as technical advice to the National Institutes of Health.

But to the gay-rights community, the recommendations from such a prestigious scientific group promise to legitimize a quest for greater health equality.

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