University of Puerto Rico undergraduate students discuss LGBTT health issues / Estudiantes de la Universidad de Puerto Rico discuten asuntos de salud en las comunidades LGBTT

In San Juan, Puerto Rico

By Juan Carlos Vega, blogging for the Citizens’ Alliance Pro LGBTTA Health of Puerto Rico and the CDC-funded LGBT and Latino National Tobacco Control Networks

Estudiantes de bachillerato del curso de BIOL 4990Introducción a la Investigación planificaron, presentaron e invitaron a sus compañeros y amistades a participar de su proyecto final de curso titulado Foro Juvenil de Salud Lesbiana, Gay, Bisexual, Transgénero y Transexual (LGBTT). Con una asistencia de sobre 125 personas, en su mayoría estudiantes, el Auditorio de la Escuela de Ciencia Naturales de la Universidad de Puerto Rico (UPR) en Río Piedras se convirtió en un espacio seguro y saludable para discutir las realidades, necesidades y vicisitudes que viven las comunidades LGBTT para recibir servicios de salud. Luego de escuchar a cinco estudiantes del curso presentar estadísticas sobre la salud de las ­­comunidades LGBTT, discutir la importancia de las prácticas basadas en evidencia científica, mostrar la falta de servicios de salud que reciben las comunidades trans y hablar de los determinantes sociales y ambientales que afectan el acceso a servicios, el auditorio se convirtió en un foro donde jóvenes universitarios, gay y straight, preguntaban e indagaban sobre las realidades, alternativas y prioridades para resolver esta inequidad en salud.  Miembros de la Alianza Ciudadana en Pro de la Salud Lesbiana, Gay, Bisexual, Transgénero, Transsexual y Aliados (ACPS-LGBTTA), representando las diversidades en el acrónimo LGBTTA, se sentaron en panel para contestar interrogantes de la audiencia sobre la importancia del apoyo legal para promover justicia, la necesidad de servicios y grupos de apoyo específicos para comunidades LGBTT, la inclusión de las perspectivas de identidad de genero y orientación sexual en políticas públicas, al igual que el significado de intersexualidad. Fascinantes las preguntas. Y hasta Ricky Martin cogió su mención!

Desde la perspectiva del panel pude captar la atención de los estudiantes durante la discusión de asuntos de salud LGBTT. / From the panels’ perspective I was able to capture students attentions as one of the Alliance members in the panel discussed LGBTT health issues.

Desde la perspectiva del panel pude captar la atención de los estudiantes durante la discusión de asuntos de salud LGBTT. / From the panels’ perspective I was able to capture students attention as one of the Alliance members in the panel discussed LGBTT health issues.

Agradecemos a la Dra. Elba Díaz del Recinto de Ciencias Medicas-UPR por su visión de equidad en salud para todos los puertorriqueños y puertorriqueñas, a los estudiantes presentes, y a los cinco presentadores del día, María Marte Santos, Jossec Ramos Medina, Nora Brauchitsch, Juan Dávila, Rivera y Fransheska Martínez, a quienes felicitamos e invitamos a la próxima Cumbre Puertorriqueña Pro Salud LGBTTA a presentar este mismo tema en Abril del 2014.

Estudiantes presentaron razones por las que el uso de tabaco en las comunidades LGBTT es mas alto que en las comunidades heterosexuales. / Students presented reasons why LGBTT folks smoke more than their heterosexual counterparts.

Estudiantes presentaron razones por las que el uso de tabaco en las comunidades LGBTT es mas alto que en las comunidades heterosexuales. / Students presented reasons why LGBTT folks smoke more than their heterosexual counterparts.

Durante la actividad se distribuyeron materiales educativos relacionados a salud LGBTT publicados por las Redes Nacionales para el Control y Prevención de Tabaco, la ACPS-LGBTTA y Lambda Legal.  Esta actividad se llevó a cabo como parte de la IV Jornada Educativa Contra la Homofobia de la organización Puerto Rico para Todos y fue auspiciada por:

NLTCN spanish logo high res (2)                           lgbt-health Equity

ACPS-LGBTTA Logo

No hay salud sin salud sexual = There is no health without sexual health

In San Juan, Puerto Rico

By Juan Carlos Vega
Blogging for the Citizens’ Alliance Pro LGBTTA Health of Puerto Rico
and the CDC-funded LGBT and Latino National Disparities Networks

 

During this morning plenary session at the VI International Congress of Health Promoting Universities and the IV Public Health Conference of Puerto Rico (http://ivconferenciasp.rcm.upr.edu/home.html), newly elected and LGBTT friendly San Juan Mayor, Mrs. Carmen Yulín Cruz, stated that we can not achieve health without sexual health and education.Image

Dr. Carlos Rodríguez from the Medical Science Campus at the UPR opened his concurrent session stating that sexual health is much more than STD’s and HIV/AIDS.  Comprehensive health has to fully integrate sexual education, especially Puerto Rico’s public schools health education programs.  They have been non-existent for the last ten years.  So now, we have a generation of young parents with low sexual education levels.  Media mostly focuses on high HIV/AIDS and STD’s statistics, yet important aspects like these are not taken into consideration in the public health context.

Sexoplorando, a study on sexual health in Puerto Rico, included a trans sample and representation from 71 of 78 municipalities in Puerto Rico.  Email salud.sexual@upr.edu for more details on this study.

LGBTT Health sessions during the IV Public health conference in Puerto Rico

In San Juan, Puerto Rico
 
By Juan Carlos Vega 
Blogging for the Citizens’ Alliance Pro LGBTTA Health of Puerto Rico
and the CDC-funded LGBT and Latino National Disparities Networks
 
 
 

Today is our last day attending the VI International Congress of Health Promoting Universities and the IV Public Health Conference of Puerto Rico in the Puerto Rico Convention Center.  We are forever grateful to the National Latino Tobacco Control Network for sponsoring our participation in this event.

From a quick glance at the Agenda, we identified an LGBTT health related session during each of the concurrent times the first two days of the conference.  The majority are proposals from Puerto Rico, including a 3-day forum on sexual health, which presents research and realities regarding LGBTI health in Puerto Rico.  This means that it doesn’t matter if the government, society, and religion don’t recognize our communities, we are still out of the closet.  And there is data to prove it!

Among the research presented included issues like gender construction as a social determinant of health and its effects in the trans communities of Puerto Rico, which had Trans Women and Trans Men data samples.  Another presentation had research student, Yesarel Pesante, present an analysis of homosexual couples from 2005 to 2009 Census data from Puerto Rico.  Finally, poster presentations included research on same sex behaviors and its relationship with sexual and health related practices among a sample of women in Puerto Rico.

As part of the events, the Medical Science Campus of the University of Puerto Rico with theImage sponsorship of the Institute of Puerto Rican Culture hosted an Art Festival, a full track of sessions discussing health promotion through the arts.  This event includes photo-based artist and Assistant Professor at Rutgers University, Nick Kline, who presents and exhibits his work.  In the series, Hate crimes in Puerto Rico, he features his work with local trans advocates in order to visualize their leaderships towards social change.  Health care professionals and medical students should experience health promotion thru art expression and interpretation as part of their studies in order to build sensibilities otherwise not acquired during their years of studies.

It is important to note, the presence that the Fenway Institute had during the conference in addition to the Network for LGBT Health Equity.  Mr. Harvey Makadon from the The National Center for LGBT Health Education who presented on LGBT issues, announced an upcoming webinar on LGBT health in Spanish with local UPR Professors, Dr. Carmen M. Velez Vega and Dr. Carlos Rodriguez Díaz.  The Webinar titled Calidad de cuidado para lesbianas, gays, bisexuales, transgéneros y transexuales: Eliminando la invisibilidad y las disparidades will take place on Thursday, April 4 starting at 2:00 PM EST and will discuss the unique health needs of LGBT people and the recommended ways to address those needs in.

“Awesome” Efforts in Puerto Rico Continue Pro LGBTT Health

In San Juan, Puerto Rico

By Juan Carlos Vega,
Blogging for the Citizens’ Alliance Pro LGBTTA Health of Puerto Rico
and the CDC-funded LGBT and Latino National Disparities Networks

Awesome! That is exactly what is happening in Puerto Rico pro LGBTT health.  Awesome local efforts, many with limited or no funding, continue to move an agenda forward to promote LGBTT health.  It is a very difficult accomplishment when we have planning meetings at 6:30pm, after finishing our regular paying jobs, or paying a sitter to participate in the gatherings.  However, the commitment is worth the results.  We are looking to educate our communities, students, government, and service providers regarding health needs and realities of LGBTT communities.  So here goes a blog to awesomeness!

During our October 2012 monthly member meeting, it was decided that current local volunteer efforts by the Citizen’s Alliance Pro LGBTTA Health would focus on maintaining a presence in social media platforms and participate in local and national conferences and events.  This will allow us to spread our mission and gather support for healthier LGBTT communities in Puerto Rico.

In January 2013, Alliance member, Sammy Arus, participated in the Creating Change Conference in Atlanta, Georgia, including the day-long Union=Fuerza National Latin@s Institute.  The gathering brought together a diverse group of LGBT Latin@s and allies from across the United States to foster supportive relationships and build capacity to advance LGBT Latin@ activism.  The event was sponsored by Lambda Legal, the National Gay & Lesbian Taskforce, and other national and local groups.

Last week, Alliance members, Margie Álvarez and Lissette Rodríguez, participated in the IX National Women’s Colloquium sponsored by the Women Studies Program  at the University of Puerto Rico-Cayey Campus.  The awesome program included sessions on building a local coalition to work on HIV+ women, women and literature, women in the Puerto Rican diaspora, trans women issues, and much much more!  Our support to the only gender studies program in the island is important.  Check out Margie’s blog from Cayey, Puerto Rico during the event!

The Citizens’ Alliance Pro LGBTTA Health of Puerto Rico participates with other government and research advocates pro LGBTT health in the IV Public Health Conference of Puerto Rico.

This coming week, the Alliance will be participating at the VI International Congress of Health Promoting Universities and the IV Public Health Conference of Puerto Rico in the Puerto Rico Convention Center.  We will proudly present in the panel Tobacco Control as a Catalyst for Policy Change: Data Collection Among LGBTT Communities in Puerto Rico which includes Alex Cabrera Serrano, Epidemiologist at the Department of Health of Puerto Rico Tobacco Control Program, who recently blogged the most recent LGBT tobacco control data from the Puerto Rico Behavioral Risk Factors Surveillance System.  Awesome community, university, and government collaboration!

In May, we will gather students from Dr. Elba Díaz-Toro’s course on Introduction to Population Sciences Research to lead a discussion at the University of Puerto Rico on the health needs of LGBTT communities in Puerto Rico titled Youth Forum on LGBTT Health.  The forum was submitted as a proposal for the IV Educational Conference Against Homophobia sponsored by the local group, Puerto Rico para Tod@s,   and will be the closing project for Dr. Díaz-Toro’s course.

Finally, our social media guru, Margie Álvarez, reported that the Alliance’s Facebook page had 1,053 visits between February 8 and 14 due to our postings and new content uploaded in our pages.  Jedi Librarian Awesome!  In addition, the Alliance’s Virtual Library of educational resources currently has over 125 downloadable documents pertaining to LGBTT health and environmental factors affecting our health.  This Spanish-English bilingual electronic library is an integral part of our website, which includes news, events, virtual opportunities, and other happenings pro LGBTT health in Puerto Rico.

When local professional boxer, Orlando Cruz, came out of the closet as gay in October 2012, it directly promoted healthy LGBTT communities through sports and coming out of the closet. Local newspaper, Primera Hora, posted on its front cover what became international news.

These awesome efforts are only until May 2013!!!  So who knows what will happen by the end of 2013 to promote LGBTT health in Puerto Rico.  This blog presents only one of the many community efforts happening in Puerto Rico pro LGBTT health and social justice issues.

All these education and sensibilization efforts are even more necessary as we recognize all the victims of crime and violence in Puerto Rico, especially, those most vulnerable including, women, children, LGBTT’s, Dominicans, and elders.  I personally want to send all my hope and support to all the human rights battles in Puerto Rico, especially the adoption fight by Alliance friend, health advocate, and University of Puerto Rico Medical Science Campus professor, Dr. Carmen Milagros Vélez.

Blogging for the Network: Sharing your local story!

 
By Juan Carlos Vega
Network for LGBT Health Equity Steering Committee Member.
Sending everyone tons of warm hugs from San Juan, Puerto Rico to cope with the cold weather!
 

My first blog ever was in February 2010 as a Network scholarship recipient for Creating Change in Dallas, Texas.  I was hesitant, concerned with proper grammar, looking for images to make it appealing, and making sure I was saying something relevant for a national audience.  Three years and 17 blogs later (some en español), I have been able to use it to discuss issues related to Latin@ and LGBT health in the U.S., LGBT health and social issues in Puerto Rico, and library and community organizing strategies to promote LGBT health.  I have always encouraged (with certain level of success) among other advocates in Puerto Rico to use the space to share stories, data, and announcements but I think people have the same feelings I had before my first post.  However, we have successfully documented health and social justice efforts in Puerto Rico since 2010.

I am delighted to see all the blogging on this fantastic virtual space, especially from the most recent contingency of bloggers supported by the Network to attend Creating Change in Atlanta, Georgia.  The blog entries capture local histories and struggles and provide a space for young LGBT’s of all colors to engage on health and social justice issues.  I envision them steering local movements, just like my friend Trudie Jackson and I have done in Arizona and Puerto Rico, respectively for a few years now.

Since its beginnings, the scope of blogs in this platform reflect our agreements and disagreements, wins and loses, exchanges on policy advocacy and the Network’s focus, examples of best practices and models, alerts, announcements, strategies, new publications, and many other aspects and opportunities pertaining to LGBT health.  I acknowledge the leadership and skills brought by Scout and Gustavo and their invaluable achievement to maintain this virtual repository of over 800 blogs that captures our history and our efforts pro LGBT health.

I urge all readers, to take a minute to write, to share local stories and opportunities, or just comment on whatever captures your attention.  Blog for the Network and share your story! If you are interested please email Daniella Matthews-Trigg at lgbthealthequity@gmail.com

CURRENT EFFORTS PRO LGBTT HEALTH IN PUERTO RICO

 

by Juan Carlos Vega, MLS.  

Reporting for the Citizens’ Alliance Pro LGBTTA Health of Puerto Rico, the National Latino Tobacco Control Network, and the Network for LGBT Health Equity.  Blogging from a TRANSforma Gathering of about 20 Trans women and a dozen LGBTTA researchers engaging in open conversation in an apartment in Santurce, a section of San Juan, Puerto Rico.

Local LGBTT community advocates and researchers continue to implement innovative strategies and research efforts to improve the health of LGBTT communities in Puerto Rico.  Here are some highlight of current and future local efforts.

The Committee for LGBT Issues of the Psychology Association of Puerto Rico, just published Volume 3, Number 1, 2012 issue of their electronic Bulletin, which include articles written by researchers and students alike on issues like stigma and bisexuality.  The articles, written in Spanish, include:

  • Between the street and the home: ambiguity and contradiction among Dominican sexual workers serving the tourist community by Mark B. Padilla, PhD, MPH, Assistant Professor, Department of Health Behavior and Health Education, Adjunct Assistant Professor of Anthropology, University of Michigan.
  • Diversity Within Diversity: a brief discussion about the complexity regarding bisexuality by Caleb Esteban-Reyes, B.A., Student Committee Member
  • Law vs. Politics: A Dichotomy presented to the Anti-Discrimination Committee of the U.S. Department of Justice in 2011 by Sophia Isabel Marrero, TRANSforma Consultant
  • Structural Violence as a Social Determinant of Health: Its Effects on Trans Individuals presented to the Committee for LGBT Issues of the Psychology Association of Puerto Rico during its 58th Convention in Michigan in 2011 by Sheilla Rodríguez Madera, Ph.D.

To see the full E-Bulletin click here: Diversidad E-Bulletin Vol 3 Num 1.  For more information on the Committee for LGBT Issues of the Psychology Association of Puerto Rico contact José A. Toro (jose.toro4@upr.edu) or Sheilla Rodríguez Madera (sheilla.rodriguez@upr.edu)

The TRANSforma Research Project, sponsored by the National Institutes of Health, looks into the social context of transgender and transsexual individuals in Puerto Rico. An interdisciplinary team, closely collaborating with the local Trans community, looks to explore at the influences of these social contexts and its health impact in body modification practices.  The project uses various methods to compile data in local Trans communities, including ethnographic observations within a social context, qualitative interviews, and a survey. For more information call (787) 248-1986.  They need condom and lub donations for outreach efforts!

Members of the Citizens’ Alliance Pro LGBTT Health of Puerto Rico are going to New Orleans, Louisiana for the National Latino Tobacco Control Network Face-to-Face Meeting on April 16, 2012.  Along with other CDC National Networks, we will be participating in the Promising Practices to Eliminate Tobacco-Related Disparities: The Power of Communities Conference this upcoming April 17-18, 2012.  Dra. Elba Diaz-Toro from the Medical Science Campus at the University of Puerto Rico and this blogger will be available on Tuesday, April 17, 4:15pm – 5:00pm and Wednesday, April 18, 8:00am – 8:45am to answer all your questions related to the Poster Presentation titled Community Organizing and Leadership Building in Puerto Rico Pro LGBTT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transsexual & Transgender) Health.  We look forward to share success stories and strategies with other CDC-funded National Networks who are gathering in New Orleans.  For all the details about the conference visit: http://healthedcouncil.org/promisingpractices_2012.html

For more information on the Citizens’ Alliance Pro LGBTT Health of Puerto Rico efforts and collaborations visit: http://saludlgbttpr.webs.com/

SAVE THE DATE  |  June 29-30, 2012  |  Location in Puerto Rico to be determined!

2nd LGBTT Health Summit of Puerto Rico: the Stigma and the Health Impact in Our Communities.  Visit http://saludlgbttpr.webs.com/ for the most up to date information.

High alcohol and tobacco rates for Puerto Rico LGBTT communities / Altos niveles de consumo de alcohol y tabaco en las comunidades LGBTT de Puerto Rico

Blog Written by:

Ms. Sophia Isabel Marrero Cruz, Community Advocacy & Empowerment Advisor and Mr. Juan Carlos Vega, Coordinator, Citizens’ Alliance Pro LGBTTA Health of Puerto Rico

The content of this blog puts in perspective the high rates of alcohol and tobacco consumption in LGBTT populations in Puerto Rico. We thank the Latino/a and LGBT CDC-funded National Networks for their continuos support to local community health advocates and facilitators in Puerto Rico working pro LGBTT health equity and in the development and distribution of the survey instrument. 

Según los resultados presentados en el 2011 de la Encuesta sobre la Salud en la Comunidad LGBTT en Puerto Rico, un 39% usa tabaco y un 74% consume alcohol. En comparación con la población general de Puerto Rico, el consumo de tabaco y alcohol es mayor. Los individuos de las comunidades LGBTT también reportan haber tenido problema con el sistema de salud pública y privada, lo que nos hace asumir que, también carecen de un sistema de apoyo efectivo para manejar este tipo de problemática. Con la esperanza de lograr una reducción en la población LGBTT con mayor nivel educativo, como sucedió en la población general, hemos estado trabajando para formalizar una iniciativa dirigida a atender este asunto.

La Asociación Nacional de Lesbianas y Homosexuales Profesionales de la Adicción, NALGAP, por sus siglas en ingles, ha determinado que las personas LGBTT consumen alcohol, tabaco y otras drogas por las mismas razones que el resto de la población.  Aunque reconoce que la probabilidad es mayor debido a las tenciones provocadas por el prejuicio y el rechazo en general.  La NALGAP ha identificado 5 factores específicos de abuso de sustancia en los adolecentes de las comunidades LGBTT:

  • pobre precepción de si mismos
  • un sentimiento de no-pertenencia social
  • falta de aceptación
  • falta de modelos sociales a seguir
  • falta de espacios para socializar abiertamente con sus pares, fuera de bares, pubs, discotecas etc.el riesgo de contraer el VIH

Desde el 2011 hemos participado del Programa de Apoyo para Comunidades Libres de Drogas de la Oficina de Políticas Nacionales para el Control de Drogas.  Luego de haber participado de eventos y entrenamientos, nos dimos cuenta que mejor será trabajar la temática durante la 2da Cumbre Puertorriqueña en Pro de la Salud LGBTT que se estará llevando a cabo en Puerto Rico a finales de junio del 2012.

Por tanto, el reto más difícil de la Alianza Ciudadana en Pro de la Salud LGBTTA pudiese enfrentar, no es lograr que los individuos de las comunidades LGBTT disminuyan el consumo de alcohol y tabaco. El reto está en poder alcanzar a nuestros jóvenes y adolecentes.  La falta y/o poca información cualitativa y/o cuantitativa específica a este sector de la población, los efectos directos del estigma, el discrimen y el prejuicio institucionalizado, la falta de una política pública sobre asuntos de las comunidades LGBTT, entre otras, hace de este uno muy difícil, pero no imposible.

La Oficina de la Promoción de la Salud del Departamento de Salud de Puerto Rico está lista para presentar datos relacionados a las comundiades LGBTT que han buscado el apoyo de la Línea Telefónica para Dejar de Fumar, Déjalo Ya.  Urge entrenar al personal del Departamento de Salud, las operadoras telefónicas de la línea de cesación y a los encuestadores/as del BRFSS-PR en competencia cultural LGBTT básica.  De esta forma traeremos un cambio sistemático a nivel Isla que nos permita recibir servicios de salud sensibles y combatir los efectos negativos en la salud por el consumo de alcohol y de tabaco en las comunidades LGBTT en Puerto Rico.

Dentro de una estructura de tiempo y espacio, existen coyunturas que podemos lubricar para hacer cambios sociales, culturales e institucionales que mejoren la calidad de vida para las comunidades LGBTT y para tod@s en Puerto Rico.  Gracias a todos por su apoyo!

Fuente/Source: Diaz-Toro, Elba and Vega, Juan Carlos. "Health profile of a convenience sample of LGBTT communities: Findings from the community-base groups LGBTT health initiative survey of Puerto Rico from November 2009 to November 2010", Washington, D.C.: American Public Health Association Poster Presentation on October 31, 2011.

Library Advocacy Skills for Health Justice in Puerto Rico

By Juan Carlos Vega, MLS, Activist Librarian & Information Consultant.  Article first published in SALIS News Vol.31 No.3 Fall 2011 – www.salis.orgGuest blogger and Steering Committee Member for the Network for LGBT Health Equity.

Someone once told me that my self-designated title, Activist Librarian, is a redundant one. Throughout our history, librarians have advocated for many issues pertaining to education, information access, copyright issues, and others. More recently, we face issues dealing with the relevance of library spaces and print books, since the emergence of the e-book and other current technologies have taken hold. Our profession is at the forefront of many local and national advocacy and policy issues. Although there may be a level of redundancy, my title comes from the need to show the world that librarians engage in more than cataloging books and providing assistance at a reference desk. My work as an Activist Librarian vigorously engages my information skills for social and health justice causes and community advocacy in Puerto Rico and among disadvantaged groups in the U.S.A.

In October 2010, I read a blog post from the Future Librarians for Intellectual Freedom, a group of library and information studies students who are interested in promoting intellectual freedom and social responsibility in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, that stated: “Social equality issues such as access to information, documentation of society, and free distribution of knowledge are core principles of modern libraries and archives. However, these principles are often de-accentuated in the day-to-day management of libraries and archives and information professionals can find themselves detached from a social justice perspective.” This post immediately resonated with my primary goals as a librarian wanting to disseminate information for healthier communities. My purpose as an Activist Librarian was to translate into action and steps to create change, information that otherwise would get lost among the information bombardment that we encounter every day. My title continues to be a direct action as a community advocate utilizing librarian skills.

Tobacco control has provided the framework to engage in other issues like Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Transsexual (LGBTT) equity, family health, obesity, and hate crimes. It was the basis from where the first LGBTT Community Health Survey of Puerto Rico: 2009-2011 was developed. We wanted to learn the smoking prevalence among this marginalized community. As of today, the survey showed a difference between the general population and the LGBTT communities in the U.S.A. in socio-demographic descriptive data, general health, tobacco use (39.7%) and some other health risk factors like alcohol consumption (64.8%). Due to this effort, the Puerto Rico Department of Health has included the LGBTT community as a population in disparity in its tobacco control strategic plans and has begun collecting gender identity and sexual orientation data in the local Quitline, the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveil-lance Survey (BRFSS), and other surveys.

National and international organizations like Substance Abuse Librarians & Information Specialists (SALIS) Association, the National Latino Tobacco Control Network (NLTCN), the Network for LGBT Health Equity, the Latino Commission on AIDSThe Praxis Project, Lambda Legal, and Movement Matters have played a vital role in supporting local health initiatives and in my quest to disseminate current trends and models, publication development and promotion, conference and webinars opportunities, funding availability, and federal standards to follow. They are the portals to continue my work as a librarian in local communities while contributing to the national and local public health debate.

In March 2011, in coordination with volunteer community members, we put together the 1st LGBTT Health Summit of Puerto Rico. I managed all the required coordination using my library skills for information dissemination, publication development, use of current technologies, and integrating multicultural and multilingual perspectives. After several years of engaging in tobacco control in Puerto Rico, we were able to move to health and social justice work with over 140 participants, 36 panelists, and the support from national, local, health, and government entities that made this a historical success.

As seen in this photo, relationship building was a key element when outreaching to Latino/a communities present in the diverse crowd that participated in the 1st LGBTT Health Summit of Puerto Rico. Tobacco control groups like NLTCN, the Network for LGBT Health Equity, and Legacy Foundation were essential partners in this endeavor.

Librarians and information specialists need to prove our relevance today, evolve in our information gathering and dissemination skills, and engage interest from users. For the last four and half years I have developed relationships with researchers, community members, local coalitions, university students and professors, non-profit organizations, volunteers, and even try to show my nephews that being a librarian is a cool and wonderful profession. It has taken time to build these relationships, but my personal and professional investment has provided me with the opportunity to really understand the local perspective and what are their information needs to move towards healthier communities.

CDC National Networks continue to support LGBTT health efforts in Puerto Rico

by Juan Carlos Vega, Guest Blogger
From Sticky Fingers Vegan Coffee Place in Columbia Heights, Washington, D.C.

On Wednesday, November 9, 2011 from 8:00 PM until 12:00 midnight, the CDC National Networks will continue its support to the LGBTT communities of Puerto Rico by participating in the upcoming Health Fair sponsored by the local community-based group, Transexuales y Transgéneros en Marcha (TTM).  Local Network representatives will distribute educational materials and present during the evening’s panels.  This will be an excellent opportunity to reach out to the Latino/a trans communities in Puerto Rico.  We look forward to a very enriching evening.

During TTM's Health Fair participants will have the opportunity to be tested for cholesterol, blood pressure, diabetes, STD's, HIV, and vision, among other health conditions.

Are you at APHA? Happy Halloween Poster Session on Puerto Rico LGBTT Health

by Juan Carlos Vega, Guest Blogger
While attending APHA 2011 in Washington, D.C.

Greetings from cold but beautiful DC!

TODAY from 2:30 PM – 3:00 PM
LGBT Poster Presentation – Poster 8
Health profile of a convenience sample of LGBTT communities: Findings from the Community-base groups LGBTT health initiative survey of Puerto Rico from November 2009 to November 2010 by Elba Cecilia Díaz-Toro, DMD, MSD, MPH and Juan Carlos Vega, MLS.

Come by, say hello and learn about the local health survey results and how it compares to other Latino/a communities and LGBTT communities, as well as with other state surveys. We will try to create a “warm” space for all!

Thanks always for the support from the Network for LGBT Health Equity.
Gracias, Juan Carlos