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AMA Foundation Launches New Initiative to Address LGBTQ Health Disparities


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John D. Evans

John D. Evans

The American Medical Association Foundation (AMAF) recently announced a new initiative to create a cadre of LGBTQ health specialists through the AMA Foundation LGBTQ Fellowship Program—a national fellowship program to promote best practices and shared outcomes, while improving the quality of LGBTQ health care nationwide. Business executive and philanthropist John D. Evans has been named Chairman of the Foundation.

The AMAF LGBTQ Fellowship Commission will guide the fellowship program inception to ensure the health needs of the LGBTQ community are optimally considered. The Commission will provide guidance on ways to enhance the fellowship request for proposal and its framework, including, but not limited to, funding, program structure, and other design elements with the approval of the AMAF Board of Directors.

“It is critical we eliminate health-care disparities facing the LGBTQ community,” Mr. Evans said. “Intersectional issues of discrimination, stigma, access to, and quality of care are experienced at a higher rate by lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender individuals, and we believe this new initiative will improve the health of LGBTQ people across the country. 

Mr. Evans is one of the cofounders of C-SPAN in 1977 and continues to serve on the C-SPAN Board. From 2002 to 2013, he served on the board of the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative; served on the University of Michigan’s Global Health Initiative Advisory Board, and currently co-chairs the Advisory Board for Dr. Robert Gallo’s Institute of Human Virology at the University of Maryland.

Sarah A. Sanders, PharmD

Sarah A. Sanders, PharmD

“We are honored Mr. Evans will lead our LGBTQ Fellowship Commission, that will help address and alleviate the health disparities that members of the LGBTQ community face,” said AMAF President, Sarah A. Sanders, PharmD. “Through his vast networks in business and academia, he will bring a tremendous amount of leadership, knowledge, and experience to the Fellowship Commission, which will also further elevate the status of this crucially important and timely initiative to transform health care for the LGBTQ community.”

LGBTQ Health Specialists 

Joshua M. Cohen, MD, MPH, FAHS

Joshua M. Cohen, MD, MPH, FAHS

“A key social determinant of health affecting sexual and gender minorities is a shortage of health-care providers who are knowledgeable and culturally competent in LGBTQ health. This shortage underscores the immediate need for the AMA Foundation’s LGBTQ Fellowship Program which will train physicians to become LGBTQ Health Specialists,” said former AMAF President and founding donor of its LGBTQ endowment fund, Joshua M. Cohen, MD, MPH, FAHS. Moreover, policies that permit the denial of services to LGBTQ people are linked to a 46% increase in the proportion of gay, lesbian, and bisexual adults who report mental distress, and gay men account for more than two thirds of all people diagnosed with HIV each year in the United States, despite comprising only 2% of the general population.

Establishing a national network of LGBTQ health specialist physicians who are formally trained to serve sexual and gender minorities will have a dramatic and positive impact on this community. The LGBTQ Fellowship cohort provides a transformative opportunity to: decrease LGBTQ health disparities; increase cultural and clinical competence amongst physicians in LGBTQ health; build capacity of LGBTQ health services sector to better identify and address the unique health needs of the LGBTQ community, such as the effects of anesthesia on transgender patients undergoing gender affirming surgery due to medications; improve basic quality of life (health and well-being) of LGBTQ communities; understand and address social determinants of health faced by this community through the promotion of research and supporting the dissemination of research findings across mediums such as medical journals; and, provide safe entry point to link individuals to broader health and wellness services.

Accelerating Change in Medical Education

The new initiative builds on the work of the AMA Accelerating Change in Medical Education initiative launched in 2013 to create the medical schools of the future. The goal of the effort is to address the growing gap between how physicians are being trained and the skills they’ll need to practice in modern health systems. Additionally, the launch of the LGBTQ Fellowship Program follows last year’s hiring of the AMA’s first Chief Health Equity officer and subsequent launch of the AMA Center for Health Equity. For more information, visit -AMAfoundation.org


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