3%, or 50,000 Nebraskans are gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender but little is known if the state is serving their needs. The University of Nebraska Medical Center and the University of Nebraska at Omaha are currently conducting an anonymous community needs study to determine a number of factors. UNMC’s Dr. Christopher Fisher is an assistant professor at UNMC’s College of Public Health and says this survey covers a number of heath issues.
“The survey is looking to access the social, mental, physical and sexual health of the community as well as to get some insight of levels of engagement in the community. How involved people are with the community and how much they feel in control over being able to shape the agenda and the progress the community is making in all of their various needs.”
Dr. Fisher says one main concern is the lack of people being tested for HIV and AIDS.
“We are actually working with several community partners throughout the state in helping put this together. Nebraska Aids Project is one of them and one of their concerns is that there appears to be a lot of young, gay, bisexual men who are not getting tested for HIV. So, one of the things we are assessing in this survey is whether or not people have been tested. If so, how are they getting tested and if they are willing to share with is where. If they are not getting tested, why are they not getting tested. Maybe some of the reasons.”
Dr. Fisher says they opted for an on-line survey and they are asking for volunteers.
“There is no database of LGBT people so we don’t have a list of addresses or phone numbers that we can send this out to and get a representative sample so we are relying on people in the community to come forth and be willing to take the survey. One of the advantages on-line, it is anonymous survey so they don’t have to worry about disclosing who they are or where they live so they can feel confident we are not sharing this information and the information they give us isn’t connected to them in any way.”
Once the data is collected, Dr. Fisher says this will give researchers an idea of what the next step should be.
“Where is the community at and what is working well and where can we provide this data to provide the community to get the resources to address those needs. So be it HIV testing, education around substance use, learning to more effectively organize the community so they can ensure their needs are being met. Those kinds of things.”
Dr. Fisher says there is no research on this population in the Midlands so this survey will serve as the foundation for future assessments.
About 340 people have already completed the survey and they are hoping for a total of 500 volunteers. They are especially looking for people in rural Nebraska, southwest Iowa and from Latino and African-American communities to take part.
The survey takes about 30 minutes and can be found on UNMC’s website at www.app1.unmc.edu/lgbt.