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New health surveys will get to the root of Latino identity

LatinaLista — Every Latino knows that not all Latinos are the same. Some of us eat pinto beans, others eat black beans. Some eat tortillas and other eat plantains. For some, tequila is the liquor of choice and for others, it’s rum.

Now, the government is finally understanding that there are problems when umbrella labels are hung over groups like Latinos and Asians. These problems become especially apparent when trying to create accurate and helpful health profiles.

healthquestions.jpgBecause of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), the US Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius announced that all new major health surveys, which will be required under the ACA, and research tools will now dig deeper in establishing just what kind of Latinos and Asians are filling out the questionnaires.

New health surveys will ask respondents to identify themselves in fuller detail.

“These new data standards, once finalized, will help us target our research and tailor stronger solutions for underserved and minority communities,” added HHS Director of the Office of Minority Health, Dr. Garth Graham. “To fully understand and meet the needs of our communities, we must first thoroughly understand who we are serving.”

Another big group that will benefit from these changes is the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) demographic. Now, questions will get more detailed in letting respondents share their sexual orientation.

While some might argue this is an invasion of privacy, it’s an argument without merit. Unless medical researchers know exactly who has low tolerance to certain treatments, is developing unusual side effects to various medicines or exhibits no reaction at all to treatments or medicine, people of color and in the LGBT communities will have poorer health outcomes than the rest of the population.

“Health disparities have persistent and costly affects for minority communities, and the whole country,” Secretary Sebelius said. “Today we are taking critical steps toward ensuring the collection of useful national data on minority groups, including for the first time, LGBT populations. The data we will eventually collect in these efforts will serve as powerful tools and help us in our fight to end health disparities.”

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