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LGBTQ Data Added to the Pennsylvania’s COVID-19 Testing

Governor Tom Wolf announced on March 13 that the state will include LGBTQ-specific information as part of its COVID-19 data collection. Pennsylvania Department of Health began collecting race and ethnicity data after racial disparities were revealed during the pandemic. It has expanded the effort to include sexual orientation and gender identity.

In his announcement, Wolf said that collecting the additional data will help ensure that everyone experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 in Pennsylvania has equal access to diagnostic testing.

“The fact Wolf has given the OK to collect this data is a huge deal for the LGBTQ community,” says Erin Cross, director, Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender (LGBT) Center at Penn.

She says Pennsylvania is stepping up and leading the way for other states.

“It’s being called a trailblazer state in collecting the data as part of its COVID-19 response,” she says. “I am really proud to be a resident in a state where LGBTQ lives are valued and people want to get data so that our health continues to improve as a whole.”

Dennis Flores, an assistant professor at the School of Nursing, who specializes in HIV/STI prevention, thinks it’s wonderful that Wolf has enacted plans to be able to track data in terms of sexual orientation and gender identity.

“As this pandemic is unfolding, we are being forced to create programs that would address the needs of different subpopulations, and there certainly are particular concerns that make it unique for the LGBTQ community,” he says.

Informed by his early years as a bedside nurse in the last AIDS unit in the Southeast in Atlanta, his current research is focused on developing family-based LGBTQ health promotion interventions. As a one-time national spokesperson for two national HIV testing campaigns, Flores emphasizes the value of health screening and preventive health in his work with the LGBTQ community.

This is an excerpt from a story that was originally published in Penn Today. It was written by Dee Patel. Click here to read the entire version.