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Event on LGBTQIA+ health to bring researchers and community members together

The next event in the online Health Equity series, which is free and open to the public, will cover disparities in LGBTQIA+ health care.

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LGBTQIA+ people face health disparities linked to discrimination, social stigma and denial of their human rights. Research suggests this inequity leads to high rates of psychiatric disorders, substance abuse and suicide.

An event in August, available virtually through Virginia Commonwealth University, will focus on these health disparities and engage the community in solutions. “Across the Rainbow: Moving from Disparities to Equity in LGBTQ+ Health” features leaders and health advocates from Richmond-area nonprofits. Panelists will speak to advances and gaps in the research and share resources on LGBTQIA+ health.

The event is part of the quarterly Health Equity series, led by the C. Kenneth and Dianne Wright Center for Clinical and Translational Research, where VCU and VCU Health experts bring together community partners and members of the public for presentation, discussion and increased awareness of health disparities in Richmond and beyond.

Visit go.vcu.edu/equity for more information.

“Across the Rainbow: Moving from Disparities to Equity in LGBTQ+ Health”

When: 10-11:30 a.m., Tuesday, Aug. 10

Register online 

Speakers include: 

Zakia McKensey is executive director of the Nationz Foundation, which increases access to HIV and sexually transmitted infections testing, links people to care and provides holistic services to increase wellness in the greater Richmond area with a special focus on the LGBTQIA+ community. McKensey is a native of Richmond and has over 15 years of experience in the field of HIV prevention and education. She is a certified HIV test counselor, prevention educator and advocate. And she’s a motivational speaker and disease intervention specialist certified by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. McKensey hopes to make a difference in the transgender and LGBTQIA+ community through education on sexually transmitted infections and HIV.

Karen Legato is executive director of Richmond’s Health Brigade, formerly known as the Fan Free Clinic, which provides health services to underserved residents in a caring and nonjudgmental environment. Legato has served over 30 years in the nonprofit sector, providing both direct service and administrative leadership. Her service background includes medical social work, administration, child and family work, education, program development, project management, facilitation, public speaking, community coalitions and partnership work. Health Brigade, under Legato’s leadership, has received several awards recognizing its impact in the greater Richmond community. In addition to degrees in psychology and pastoral studies, Legato earned a Master of Social Work from the VCU School of Social Work.

Bill Harrison is the president and executive director of Diversity Richmond, Central Virginia’s LGBT community center. Prior to joining Diversity Richmond, Harrison was the government and public affairs director for the American Red Cross, Central Virginia Chapter. He was the development director for Health Brigade during the height of the HIV epidemic and was the first public information officer for the Virginia Department of Health’s HIV program. Harrison was a recipient of the 2017 Humanitarian Award presented by the Virginia Center for Inclusive Communities. In 2016, he received the Nationz Foundation Humanitarian Award. Under his leadership, Diversity Richmond was named “Foundation Philanthropist” by the Central Virginia Chapter of the Association of Professional Fundraisers, the first LGBT organization to receive that recognition.

Future Health Equity series event:

“Black Lives, Black Lungs II”

When: 10 a.m., Tuesday, Nov. 9

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