Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) individuals experience unique health disparities. Although the acronym LGBT is used as an umbrella term, and the health needs of this community are often grouped together, each of these letters represents a distinct population with its own health concerns. Furthermore, among lesbians, gay men, bisexual men and women, and transgender people, there are subpopulations based on race, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, geographic location, age, and other factors. Although a modest body of knowledge on LGBT health has been developed, these populations, stigmatized as sexual and gender minorities, have been the subject of relatively little health research. As a result, a number of questions arise: What is currently known about the health status of LGBT populations? Where do gaps in the research exist? What are the priorities for a research agenda to address these gaps? At the request of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the Institute of Medicine convened a consensus committee to answer these questions. The 17-member Committee on Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Health Issues and Research Gaps and Opportunities comprised experts in the fields of mental health, biostatistics, clinical medicine, adolescent health and development, aging, parenting, behavioral sciences, HIV research, demography, racial and ethnic disparities, and health services. The committee was asked to conduct a review and prepare a report assessing the state of the science on the health status of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender populations; identify research gaps and opportunities; and outline a research agenda that will assist NIH in enhancing its research efforts in this area.
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