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IHS Hosts Third Public Meeting to Address LGBT2-S Health Issues

by Lisa Neel, IHS National HIV/AIDS Program Coordinator

On May 5, the Indian Health Service (IHS) held its third public meeting on lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and two-spirit (LGBT2-S) health issues via public teleconference.

One essential topic that participants discussed was confidentiality and more than one caller expressed the opinion that all patients need to feel that their privacy is adequately protected by IHS so that they feel safe seeking care and disclosing risk factors to their providers. Participants also spoke at length about preferred terminology and good ways to create a welcoming environment. Callers expressed the strong belief that such steps could improve access to appropriate, sensitive health care services that meet the needs of patients.

There were a total 56 participants on this teleconference. The event was part of a continuing series that IHS is holding to gain a better understanding of the health care needs of American Indian and Alaska Native LGBT2-S people so that IHS can implement improvements in health policy and health care delivery. Previous public meetings in the series were held in September 2015 and July 2015. Meeting participants included representatives from national, regional, and local organizations sharing their experiences in serving the American Indian and Alaska Native LGBT2-S community.

Dr. Alec Thundercloud, Director of the Office of Clinical and Preventive Services for the IHS, opened the call by welcoming the participants and briefly describing the previous feedback gathered from earlier events. Participants brought a number of concerns to the table, including suggestions for the agency in the areas of preferred terminology, clinical practice procedures, creating a welcoming care environment, increasing parity of services, reducing stigma, meeting behavioral health needs, and supporting youth and their families.

We celebrate these important efforts to advance and promote the health of American Indian and Alaska Native LGBT2-S people. Persons interested in contributing more information or elaborating on their comments are encouraged to contact Lisa Neel at or via phone at 301-443-4305.

Ms. Neel, MPH, a member of the Cherokee Nation, manages the IHS National HIV/AIDS Program. This public health program addresses infectious disease needs in partnership with Native communities throughout the United States.

Lisa Neel, IHS National HIV/AIDS Program Coordinator