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LGBTQ COVID-19 Testing Data Gaps

By Charlotte Robinson, August 16, 2020
An editorial published in The American Journal of Public Health calls for the routine inclusion of sexual orientation & gender identity (SOGI) data in the demographic information collected for COVID-19 testing. The editorial authored by researchers at The Fenway Institute at Fenway Health entitled “Sexual & Gender Minority Health in the COVID-19 Pandemic: Why Data Collection & Combatting Discrimination Matter Now More Than Ever” adds to a growing body of literature calling for the collection of SOGI data in health care. Sean Cahill, Director of Health Policy Research at the Fenway Institute & lead author of the editorial stated, “The COVID-19 pandemic has sparked an important conversation about racial & ethnic health disparities, but the COVID-19-related risks to sexual & gender minorities have received almost no attention. We don’t yet know whether Black, Latinx, or Indigenous people who are also lesbian, gay, bisexual & transgender (LGBTQ) have worse outcomes from COVID-19 than their straight & cisgender peers. These are critically important questions because the answers might affect the deployment of resources and the development of culturally tailored interventions. In the middle of the greatest global health crisis of the century, with the exception of a handful of states & the District of Columbia, we are operating with no knowledge of how COVID-19 is affecting sexual & gender minority populations. This is public health malpractice. Our local, state & federal health agencies must, at a minimum, encourage the systematic collection & reporting of SOGI data to understand how sexual & gender minorities are experiencing COVID-19, how SOGI disparities intersect with racial/ethnic disparities & how to effectively tailor interventions for prevention, testing, contact tracing & care services.”
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