Director's Message: NIH Formally Recognizes Sexual and Gender Minorities as a Health Disparity Population

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Director's Message: NIH Formally Recognizes Sexual and Gender Minorities as a Health Disparity Population 

On behalf of many colleagues who have worked together to make today possible, including the NIH Sexual and Gender Minority Research Office, I am proud to announce the formal designation of sexual and gender minorities (SGMs) as a health disparity population for NIH research.

The term SGM encompasses lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender populations as well as those whose sexual orientation, gender identity and expressions, or reproductive development varies from traditional, societal, cultural, or physiological norms.  

Mounting evidence indicates that SGM populations have less access to health care and higher burdens of certain diseases, such as depression, cancer, and HIV/AIDS. But the extent and causes of health disparities are not fully understood, and research on how to close these gaps is lacking.

The Minority Health and Health Disparities Research and Education Act of 2000 authorizes the NIMHD Director, in consultation with the director of the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), to define health disparity populations. This month, I, with strong support from AHRQ Director Andrew Bindman, M.D., formally recognize SGM as a disparity population for research purposes recognizing that SGM experience health disparities and discrimination. The designation builds on previous steps by NIH to advance SGM health research, encourages additional attention to be focused on the health inequalities in SGM communities, and promotes the coordinated approach to research applied to other health disparities populations.

Eliseo J. Pérez-Stable, M.D.


National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities

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