Did you know that most national and state surveys do not ask questions about sexual orientation and gender identity? This means that the LGBTQ community, which encompasses all kinds of people of different races, ethnicities, religions, gender identities, and sexualities, are often not counted. In addition, the 2020 U.S. Census will fail to recognize all LGBTQ individuals who aren’t currently in a same-sex relationship.
Previous studies have shown that quantifying impacts on marginalized communities sheds a spotlight on the issues that we as a society need to address. For example, healthcare disparities in underrepresented populations (including the LGBTQ community) result in imprecise healthcare outcomes and limited access to healthcare. In order to mitigate this issue, biomedical researchers need to include a more diverse range of people in future studies.
Now is a good time to reach out to the nation’s communities that have been historically underserved. Trends show that Americans are improving their health and participating in health research more than ever before. Electronic health records (EHR) have been widely adopted, genomic-analysis costs have dropped significantly, and health technologies have become mobile, democratizing health information so people can have easier access to (and control of) their health data. However, these are all moot points if certain populations are not being counted in groundbreaking studies and trials.
This is why a program called All of Us was started. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) created the All of Us Research Program, a nationwide research effort, to speed up health research and medical breakthroughs. The goal is to produce one of the world’s largest and most diverse repositories of health data for researchers to analyze in an effort to advance precision medicine. The program is inviting one million or more people living in the U.S. to participate at joinallofus.org/together.
Precision medicine is healthcare that is based on the individual and takes into account factors like where you live, what you do, and what your family health history is. We hope that precision medicine will help us tell people the best ways to stay healthy—and if someone does get sick, it will help healthcare providers find the treatment that will work best for each person.
In order to get to a point where precision medicine is more effective, the All of Us program is actively reaching out and inviting all communities, reflecting the diversity of America, to participate. And since LGBTQ individuals have unique healthcare needs beyond traditional care, the Montrose Center has committed to helping the All of Us program tell Houston’s LGBTQ community about how they can get involved.