Lessons from the 2019 National LGBTQ Health Conference

ISGMH’s Dr. Kathryn Macapagal presents on adolescent PrEP options and preferences

After five successful years in Chicago, the National LGBTQ Health Conference moved to Atlanta, GA, this past month. Co-organized and hosted by Emory University, the conference had the largest audience to date with more than 320 attendees, including scientists, public health professionals, and health care providers focused on the health and wellbeing of sexual and gender minorities. The conference was founded by the Institute for Sexual and Gender Minority Health and Wellbeing and Center on Halsted in 2013. ISGMH’s associate director, Dr. Francesca Gaiba, was a conference co-chair, and ISGMH Director Brian Mustanski was co-chair of the conference scientific committee.

Keynote speakers included Tonia Poteat, PhD, MPH, PA-C, whose work has focused on SGM health disparities, HIV, and the wellbeing of transgender communities, and Chasten Buttigieg, LGBTQ rights advocate and husband of presidential candidate Mayor Peter Buttigieg. In her address, Dr. Poteat shared that the field of LGBTQ health is so large and interconnected that researchers ought to consider multiple factors, including (but not limited to) reproductive justice, the prison-industrial complex, HIV and AIDS, transgender health, Black Lives Matter, and immigration issues. Speaking specifically about transgender health disparities, Dr. Poteat stated that “It’s not being transgender that leads to health inequalities. It’s the social process of transphobia that disempowers this group and allows oppression to happen.”

ISGMH post-doc Dr. Dennis Li speaking about regional variability in sexual health access in the diverse SMART project sample

Following the conference, attendee Dr. Samir El-Sawaf shared, “I leave the conference being incredibly inspired by seeing LGBTQ people and allies shaping the future of improved healthcare for the most vulnerable people. But also I am reminded of the inequity that exists for both the entire community and within it.” Dr. El-Sawaf also commented that the conference was especially motivating because it was an example of how “LGBTQ people are doing amazing things in health and science.”

A number of ISGMH faculty and staff members presented their research at the conference (links to the abstracts can be found below). For a more detailed review of the conference highlights, read this Emory University news piece.