New York State Department of Health Recognizes LGBTQ Health Awareness Week Committing to Continued Progress and Dialogue

Health Awareness Week Theme is "Awake and Aware"

Share the Hashtag #LGBTQHealth

ALBANY, N.Y. (March 23, 2023) –The New York State Department of Health is encouraging everyone to have an open dialogue about the health care barriers facing the LGBTQ+ communities during the 21st National LGBTQ Health Awareness Week. This year's theme is "Awake and Aware."

"This year's theme of being awake to what's happening and aware of what's right aligns with the Department's ongoing mission to dismantle the barriers that continue to face lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, nonbinary, and gender non-conforming New Yorkers," Acting State Health Commissioner Dr. James McDonald said. `"We've made good progress but more needs to be done to guarantee quality, compassionate health care is easily accessible for these historically underserved communities. I thank our community partners and providers for the work they do each day to create a more equitable, inclusive New York." 

National LGBTQ Health Awareness Week was established by the National Coalition for LGBTQ Health and encourages everyone to speak openly about LGBTQ+ health with the goal of ending stigma through accessible, affirming, and inclusive health care services.

Individuals are encouraged to join the conversation using the social media hashtag #LGBTQHealth and to keep the conversation going by sharing social media images that can be found in the Coalition's toolkit.

Coinciding with National LGBTQ Health Awareness Week, the New York State LGBTQ+ Health & Human Services Network this week also released the 2021 Needs Assessment Survey. The survey is designed around two main data sources: a series of focus groups with providers in the Network and a statewide community survey, which was provided online and available to individuals in all regions of the State.

Service areas that were explored included chronic conditions, major health events, environmental health, job related concerns, reproductive health, abuse in relationships or the family, mental health, substance use, public assistance, care for gender transition, youth services, and disability.

The five major takeaways from the 2021 Needs Assessment include:

  1. A generational shift is under way. Community members who are over 35 years of age and those under 35 have different experiences, expectations, and needs.
  2. Disparities in needs, access, and outcomes in the LGBTQ+ community very strongly replicate the patterns of racial and ethnic health disparities in American society. In most of the needs and issues examined in the survey, non-White respondents reported higher levels of need and lower levels of receiving services than their White counterparts.
  3. Other patterns of privilege and health inequities mirror American society in general and show two separate worlds of experience in the LGBTQ+ communities of New York State.
  4. Intersectional discrimination is a major factor related to needs, access, and outcomes of services.
  5. Mental health and the psycho-social context of well-being are both the most prominent areas of need in the community and the greatest opportunity to impact the overall health and quality of life of LGBTQ+ persons in New York State.

The survey is funded by the Department and is conducted once every five years. It identifies emerging health challenges experienced by members of New York's lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, nonbinary, and gender non-conforming communities.

Identifying these trends will allow the Department to continue its mission to dismantle barriers to equitable health care to underserved populations. During Pride Month in June 2022, New York State released its health disparities report highlighting the unique health disparities facing the LGBTQ+ population as part of the Department's commitment to identifying and reducing these barriers. This report highlights the increased health challenges facing these diverse and vibrant communities, including access to healthcare providers, mental distress, depressive disorders, and alcohol use among LGBTQ+, transgender, and gender non-conforming adults. The report was distributed to local county health departments, community-based organizations, and health service networks.

The findings of these reports will continue to impact programming the Department prioritizes, including the work of the Department's LGBT Health and Human Services initiative, which aims to eliminate disparities in health care by increasing the availability of quality health care services and supports for underserved populations.

For more information on the State's AIDS Institute, visit the webpage here.

For more information about the Department's Office of LGBTQ Services initiatives and LGBTQ healthcare resources, e-mail