Arizona man hopes to help national research program diversify health care system

May 26, 2022, 4:45 AM | Updated: 1:42 pm
(Facebook Photo/All of Us Research)...
(Facebook Photo/All of Us Research)
(Facebook Photo/All of Us Research)

PHOENIX —  A national research program working with Banner Health and the University of Arizona aims to diversify the health care system and one Arizona man hopes he can be a part of that change.

Victor Avila is a gay, HIV-positive, Latino man who is a participant in the All of Us Research Program.

Avila said his experience with the health care system hasn’t always been favorable.

“If I go to a doctor who is a general practitioner, perhaps things about my sexual health or my health, in general, are not being addressed versus a doctor who is LGBTQ friendly,” he told KTAR News 92.3 FM.

Jason Karnes, a researcher with the All of Us Research Program, said only looking at white patients in medical research has led to gaps in the health care system.

“The problem is that you can’t always just extrapolate what you find in a white community to what you find in an African American community or an Asian community,” Karnes said.

That is why Avila decided to join the program, to help its mission of creating a multicultural database.

“Health care can be tailored to the individual, and so that these researchers know that every person has a unique set of DNA and has a unique way that things need to be approached,” Avila said.

He hopes researchers use his DNA to see how certain medications affect Latinos.

“As an HIV-positive person, they’re going to test it to see what the long-term effects of certain medicines are or any genetics that are related to it.”

Avila said he feels like he will be a part of something bigger for future generations.

“In the future these kids who are LGBT growing up, their health care will be better, and they can go to any doctor and feel like the doctor understands what their medical needs are,” he said.

Those interested in becoming a participant or researcher for the program can visit the organization’s website.

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Arizona man hopes to help national research program diversify health care system