Resource Logo
CDC HIV/AIDS/Viral Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update

UNITED STATES: Fenway Health Urges Doctors to Talk with Patients About Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity


Boston Globe (01.07.12) - Thursday, January 19, 2012

The LGBT community in the United States experiences significant health disparities, including many linked to social stigmas. As a group, LGBT people are more likely to experience violence; they have higher rates of psychiatric disorders and substance abuse; and gay men are at higher risk of some STDs.

The research institute of Boston-based Fenway Health, a longtime provider of specialized LGBT care, recently published two policy briefs to help providers address LGBT patients' needs. The first details why information about patients' sexual and gender identity should be gathered in clinical settings; the second offers guidance on how to collect the data.

"In order to understand and address LGBT health disparities, we as health care providers need to better understand who our LGBT patients are," said Dr. Stephen Boswell, president of Fenway Health.

"If LGBT patients are told why it is important to gather such information, and that such information will be kept private and confidential, most will be forthcoming," states the first brief. The second offers pointers, such as having patients complete a registration form that asks, "Do you think of yourself as," with boxes to check indicating homosexual, heterosexual, bisexual, something else, or uncertain. Another suggestion is asking patients the open-ended question "Do you have a partner?" rather than "Are you married?" To access the briefs, visit: and


Copyright © 2012 -CDC Prevention News Update, Publisher. All rights reserved to Information, Inc., Bethesda, MD. The CDC National Center for HIV, STD and TB Prevention provides the following information as a public service only. Providing synopses of key scientific articles and lay media reports on HIV/AIDS, other sexually transmitted diseases and tuberculosis does not constitute CDC endorsement. This daily update also includes information from CDC and other government agencies, such as background on Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR) articles, fact sheets, press releases and announcements. Reproduction of this text is encouraged; however, copies may not be sold, and the CDC HIV/STD/TB Prevention News Update should be cited as the source of the information. Contact the sources of the articles abstracted below for full texts of the articles.

Information in this article was accurate in January 19, 2012. The state of the art may have changed since the publication date. This material is designed to support, not replace, the relationship that exists between you and your doctor. Always discuss treatment options with a doctor who specializes in treating HIV.