Health Conference Looks to Improve Care For Transgender Community

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Freddy Molano and Catherine Abate (right) of Community
Healthcare Network, with transgender activist
Ashley Love, at last week's conference.
(Photo courtesy Community Healthcare Network)

On Friday, health care providers and transgender advocates gathered at Lincoln Hospital for a day of discussions on the specific health needs of the borough's transgender population-a group organizers say is often overlooked by the medical community at large.

The event was hosted by the nonprofit health care provider Community Healthcare Network and the Bronx Pride Center, the borough's only LGBT advocacy organization.

“Bringing together over 150 service providers and consumers has put transgender health on the health agenda for the Borough,” said Bronx Pride director Dirk McCall. “We look forward to taking the next steps towards full equality for the transgender community.”

Advocates say the transgender population has a unique set of health needs and faces several barriers when it comes to accessing proper care, including a lack of health insurance, using street hormones, self medicating, and significantly higher rates of HIV/AIDS infection.

The conference also sought to draw medical providers' attention to the social barriers and discrimination the trangender people face, and how to address those issues when providing health care.

“The city has a transgender population of significant size, and they need someone to advocate for them,” said Dr. Monica Sweeney, Assistant Commissioner for the Bureau of HIV/AIDS Prevention and Control.

Community Healthcare Network runs a health service program geared specifically for transgendered patients, launched in 2004. Based at the Bronx Health Center on 975 Westchester Avenue, the program offers primary care, hormone therapy, screening and treatment of sexually transmitted infections, mental health services, HIV testing and counseling, workshops, interventions, support groups, and more. For more information, call 718-320-6765.