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10th annual One Iowa LGBTQ Health and Wellness Conference to focus on holistic health


Ten years ago, affirming health care for LGBTQ Iowans could be hard to come by. Since then, several clinics focused on serving the LGBTQ population have opened across the state.

While there is now an increased awareness of the importance of such care, barriers and challenges to the health of LGBTQ community members remain.

One Iowa’s 10th annual LGBTQ Health and Wellness Conference will be held virtually on Saturday, Feb. 19, to help address those disparities. One Iowa Program Director Max Mowitz said this year’s session lineup will focus on the social, spiritual, mental and physical health of the LGBTQ community.

Founded by Rich Salas, Daniel Zinnel and Donna Red Wing in partnership with Des Moines University in 2012, the conference is meant to educate health care providers to be LGBTQ-inclusive and improve health care access for LGBTQ Iowans.

The conference was originally geared to help educate Des Moines University students, but the focus has since expanded to also reach current health care providers and community members.

This year, sessions will include topics like the intersection of HIV and COVID-19, affirming family planning for LGBTQ couples, mental health, mutual aid, sexual health, working with LGBTQ doulas and best practices for supporting LGBTQ patients.

Mowitz took over coordinating the conference this year and made it a priority to focus on holistic health.

“We should be talking about more than doctor’s checkups and hormones and surgeries,” Mowitz said. “LGBTQ people need to be healthy in all these other different ways.”

For example, Mowitz said, looking at the impact that having access to healthy food and stable housing has on the LGBTQ community is paramount because getting basic needs met is an essential part of health care.

Another session on the docket at the conference this year is one featuring people from the city of Des Moines’ LGBTQ Advisory Council speaking about best practices for creating change in municipal settings.

“That may not seem related to health and wellness, but it very much is because part of being a healthy LGBTQ person is not being discriminated against actively. These organizations can make a huge difference when it comes to that piece of health,” Mowitz said.

Tickets for the six-hour conference range in price and a “pay what you can” option is available. More information about the conference can be found on One Iowa’s website.

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