In the midst of a national opioid crisis, are gay men partying cleaner?
While this might seem like the conclusion of a new study by two Manchester Metropolitan University criminology employees, Drs. Rob Ralphs and Paul Gray, the actual data points to a less optimistic outcome.
Gray and Ralphs’ study, taking place over a period of six months, involved interviews with over 50 drug users and 30 staff members at Mancunian clinics and treatment centers.
What its findings showed was an overwhelming preference among gay males for trendier chemsex drugs and synthetic cannabinoids, such as the drug “spice,” resulting in a significant dip in crack, heroin, and ecstasy usage.
Although gay men are going for a more complicated high through the pursuit of drugs associated with luxury and expense, this doesn’t translate to a reduction in terms of dangerous drug use. Crystal meth is still popular via injection, or “slamming,” as well as other “party” drugs offering hallucinogenic or psychedelic effects. What Ralphs and Gray’s study shows is that these men are using their preference for luxury drugs as a reason to stay away from traditional clinics and treatment centers due to stigma and preconceived notions about treatment courses.
“Despite complex and often interrelated needs, it was apparent that users of Spice and chemsex substances had a lack of knowledge of existing service provision and, perhaps most concerning, outdated views and perceptions of who treatment services are targeted at and what services could offer,” Dr. Ralphs stated.
The study is interesting in light of West Hollywood’s own decision to legalize recreational marijuana use, potentially leading denizens of the city’s overwhelmingly gay male population to seek out legal highs in favor of synthetic ones. Amidst the criticism surrounding West Hollywood’s new “party city” reputation, there’s a streak of concern for how its gay male citizens will cope with newer, more experimental drugs like “Spice” coming on the scene. Although the idea of marijuana as a gateway drug is outdated and widely disproven, the sense of a city without limits could create new interactions between West Hollywood’s LGBTQ+ community and the chemsex drug wave. New research on why gay men pursue chemsex drugs was recently published in the academic journal “Cultural Studies,” pointing overwhelmingly to a sense of loneliness and isolation among the study’s London-based participants.
“I was feeling really lonely. I was looking for company. I was really depressed living in London…you don’t have friends, you don’t have family,” said one of the interviewees. “You’re living in a big city…you have the weekend to yourself and you don’t know what to do.”
Another participant in the study noted: “In a way, you’re enjoying a private club…everyone thinks the same as you think. You don’t have to worry about anything because you’re going to be in an environment where you feel safe and whatever you do, whatever you think, whatever you say you’ll be very much accepted.”
Drs. Ralphs and Gray’s study points, more than anything else, to a division of class and wealth when it comes to chemsex use in the gay community. The danger, as they see it, is in gay men foregoing free treatment or neglecting to seek help due to not wishing to be seen in the same light as the traditionally poorer populations of heroin and crack addicts are. While neither loneliness nor drug use will be going away anytime soon in the gay community, both new studies point to a trend that might benefit from a closer look in a local context.
The Trump administration has banned multiple divisions within the Department of Health and Human Services including the Centers for Disease Control from using certain words or phrases in official documents being drafted for next year’s budget. The banned words are “Vulnerable,” “entitlement,” “diversity,” “transgender,” “fetus,” “evidence-based” and “science-based.”
Rush Holt, chief executive of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, said: “Among the words forbidden to be used in CDC budget documents are ‘evidence-based’ and ‘science-based.’ I suppose one must not think those things either. Here’s a word that’s still allowed: ridiculous.”
“To pretend and insist that transgender people do not exist, and to allow this lie to infect public health research and prevention is irrational and very dangerous, and not just to transgender people,” Mara Keisling, executive director of the National Center for Transgender Equality told the Washington Post.
David Stacy, the Human Rights Campaign’s (HRC) director of Government Affairs said HRC would fight the ban, “The Trump-Pence administration’s effort to eliminate entire communities from its vocabulary is a dangerous attack on LGBTQ people, women, and fact-based policy making. The move is reminiscent of a time not long ago when the government tried to ignore the reality of the HIV and AIDS crisis to the detriment of millions. This kind of erasure has potentially catastrophic consequences beyond the words used by the CDC — it could impact the very programs most vital to the health of women, transgender people, and others. But we will not be erased. The Human Rights Campaign will fight this and other politically-motivated policies, and this decision will ultimately backfire on the Trump-Pence administration.”
Shin Inouye, director of communications and media relations of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, issued the following statement on news of the ban,
“President Trump and his administration have launched the latest salvo in their all-out war on truth and science. This latest tactic could be taken from a George Orwell novel, or taken by an oppressive authoritarian regime. Banning the use of words like transgender, science-based, and diversity will only harm the public health as the CDC carries out its important mission.
“We applaud the journalists who have brought this latest abuse to light. Trump may decry these stories as fake, but these reports show the continuing disdain of this administration to facts. The public relies on our government to provide accurate information, and these steps undermine that important trust.”
Medicare, though not at the forefront of the healthcare debate like the Affordable Care Act and Medicaid are, is still a big concern in some circles.
What is the true status of Medicare? Is it good, bad, or somewhere in between? What would happen if Medicare was eliminated?
In this post, we’re going to discuss some pros and cons of Medicare.
Pros of Medicare
Medicare Provides Coverage to Those Who Wouldn’t Have Coverage
In many senses, Medicare does “work.” Thanks to the program, millions of aging adults have been able to receive coverage when they otherwise wouldn’t be able to afford it. Prior to 1965, when Medicare was created, around 9 millions older adults didn’t have health coverage. That number is significantly higher than the 400,000 seniors who were uninsured in 2014. Medicare also covers many younger Americans with disabilities who would not be able to get healthcare otherwise.
Consider the implications if Medicare didn’t exist. Older Americans, who typically need the most medical treatment, would find themselves paying exorbitant medical costs directly out of pocket. The total paid every year would be staggering, most likely exceeding their annual income.
Individuals with disabilities would be totally dependent on their caretakers, who may or may not be able to afford medical care.
Clearly, Medicare is useful because it covers so many people.
Medicare Costs Very Little Every Month
Medicare enrollees generally are qualified for free Part A but must pay a small amount out of pocket every month for Part B. This number is estimated to cost around $134 per month. When you compare this to the out-of-pocket cost of operations, prescriptions, and other associated costs, the savings are huge.
More and more Americans enroll in Medicare Advantage plans each year, and enrollment is expected to keep growing in the future. If fact, enrollment was at 17.6 million in 2016, tripling from 5.3 million in 2004. Part C enrollees made up 31 percent of the 57 million Medicare recipients as of 2016.
MA plans offer beneficiaries an alternative way to get Medicare benefits through plans sold by private insurance companies that contract with the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS).
You get all the Medicare program benefits of Part A hospital insurance and Part B medical insurance, together known as Original Medicare*, when you enroll in Part C (Medicare Advantage). Plus, Medicare Advantage plans may provide additional benefits (dental, vision, etc.) at a minimal cost.
These services are essential to older Americans who would suffer otherwise.
Medicare Has Led to Prescription Innovations
The inception of Medicare created a massive market for drug companies. Suddenly, millions of Americans had access to prescriptions they wouldn’t have had otherwise. When pharmaceutical companies saw the untapped potential in the Medicare market, they began investing billions of dollars in the development of drugs tailored specifically for seniors.
As John Holohan, fellow at the Health Policy Center at the Urban Institute, notes, “A market began for drug companies and medical device manufacturers; when you have a market willing to pay for [products], it’s worth making the investment.”
The addition of Medicare Part D Prescription Drug Plans and Medicare Advantage Prescription Drug Plans—both sold through private insurance companies—also gave Americans wider access to prescription medicines. Medicare beneficiaries have had access to these plans since 2006, and enrollments have increased every year since. In 2006, 22.5 million (52 percent) people on Medicare were enrolled in Part D compared to 40.8 million (71 percent) in 2016, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation. With millions of Americans receiving Medicare prescription drug benefits, this may have given pharmaceutical companies more opportunities to develop drugs for this market.
Medicare Has Resulted in Increased Medical Standards
With the creation of Medicaid and Medicare, Congress created a set of standards for hospital enrollment in the programs. As time went on, the government become more and more involved in overseeing these standards and now requires public reporting on things such as hospital infection rates and readmissions.
This public accountability forces hospitals to perform due diligence in ways they might not otherwise.
As Karen Davis, director of the Roger C. Lipitz Center for Integrated Health Care at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, notes, “When hospitals find out they aren’t as good as other hospitals, they get serious about improving. When they find out it’s possible to have lower rates of infections, for instance, they try to find out what good practices are and follow them to get good results.”
Cons of Medicare
Medicare Costs a Huge Amount to Administrate
In 2016, Medicare spending totaled $588 billion. Currently, that’s approximately 15% of the overall federal budget. That number isn’t expected to get smaller, with many estimating that the percentage will go up to around 18% over the next decade.
When you consider that this staggering amount could be spent on other valuable programs, such as education, eliminating poverty, mental illness cures, and social justice, it at least causes you to question the overall efficiency of the program.
Poor Health Can Actually Cost More
The Kaiser Family Foundation says that those who reported themselves to be in poor health and on Medicare had out-of-pocket costs 2.5 times higher than the healthier beneficiaries.
While it’s somewhat hard to evaluate what this statistic means given that self-reporting isn’t always reliable, it does raise questions.
Granted, Medicare does offer a significant number of free preventive programs to enrollees that can cut down on health problems. And, many of the individuals on Medicare suffer from preventive conditions (particularly before the implementation of ACA).
Hospital Stays Still Cost a Lot
Even for those enrolled in Medicare, hospitals stays can still be extraordinarily expensive, easily running into the thousands. This highlights several issues.
As noted, many of those on Medicare suffer from preventable conditions and are hospitalized for those conditions. This places an increased burden on hospitals, which can then drive up the prices across the board for all patients.
Additionally, because many Medicare enrollees are in a low-income bracket, they can’t afford these stays, placing a crushing burden on them and putting the hospital in a difficult spot.
While Medicare certainly helps those who are struggling medically, it also creates significant strain on the overall healthcare system in the United States.
Older Enrollees See Costs Skyrocket
“Medicare enrollees 85 and older spend three times more on healthcare than those aged 65 to 74,” according to a Kaiser Family Foundation report. In some ways, this should be expected because more medical issues arise as a person gets older.
However, it also reveals that Medicare doesn’t adapt well for the oldest adults. A truly efficient system would take the increased costs into account and spread those across all enrollees.
Medicare Attracts Fraudulent Doctors
In 2017, the United States charged 412 doctors with medical fraud, amounting to $1.3 billion. Unfortunately, much of this fraud was connected directly to the opioid epidemic currently happening in the country. As the New York Times reported, “Nearly one-third of the 412 charged were accused of opioid-related crimes. The health care providers, about 50 of them doctors, billed Medicare and Medicaid for drugs that were never purchased; collected money for false rehabilitation treatments and tests; and gave out prescriptions for cash, according to prosecutors.”
In addition to the Medicare funds lost through fraud, the government must also employ a significant task force to investigate potential crimes, adding yet more expenses to the Medicare program.
Medicare Costs Taxpayers a Huge Amount
In 2014, an astonishing 38% of Medicare funds came from payroll taxes. With the current Medicare tax rate set at 2.9% (split between employers and employees) — and an additional 0.9% for those making more than $200,000 — this represents a significant amount of money coming out of each paycheck.
While it’s certainly understandable that Medicare funding must come from somewhere, it raises the issue of whether private insurance companies could be more efficient in terms of funding their programs.
The Medicare debate isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. It’s been part of the landscape for over 50 years and will probably continue to be around in one form or another for many years to come.
When enrolling in an insurance plan, your best bet is to do plenty of research. Find out what’s available and what benefits are offered. You may be able to get a better, equally affordable plan through a private insurance company.
Clinical laboratories could significantly improve healthcare for the transgender community by using both sex and gender identity to make decisions about clinical testing, and by determining normal lab values for healthy transgender patients. A review published today in AACC’s Clinical Chemistry journal emphasizes these as critical steps on the road to eliminating the many hurdles that transgender individuals face when seeking quality healthcare.
Surveys show that 25%-30% of transgender people delay or avoid healthcare due to fear of discrimination, 15%-20% have been refused care by medical professionals, and 25%-30% have experienced harassment or violence in a healthcare setting. In addition to this widespread overt discrimination, many healthcare protocols do not account for sex/gender incongruence and little medical research exists on the effect of gender-affirming hormone therapy and surgery on physiology. In particular, these issues hinder the ability of transgender patients to get accurate clinical laboratory test results—which in turn can lead to incorrect diagnoses and treatments. One serious example of this is a case in which PSA screening was correctly ordered for a transwoman, but a large national reference laboratory failed to flag the elevated results indicating prostate cancer because her sex was listed as female. As a result, her tumor was not caught until much later, when it had already advanced to stage 3.
In this review, a team of researchers led by Dina N. Greene, PhD, of the University of Washington in Seattle recommend best practices for clinical laboratories to help ensure that transgender patients receive equitable care. One of the most important steps labs can take is to base decisions on a patient’s birth sex and gender identity. However, labs frequently don’t receive both of these pieces of information. Labs should therefore develop institution-wide protocols for identifying transgender patients that highlight the different electronic medical record systems where sex and gender identity both need to be listed. As an additional precaution, when sex-specific tests such as those for PSA or pregnancy are seemingly ordered for a patient of the opposite sex, labs should not cancel these tests and should always properly flag the results.
A critical need also exists for labs to develop precise reference intervals for transgender patients taking hormone therapy. Reference intervals are the range of normal test values appropriate for a patient population and are crucial for correctly interpreting test results. Sex-specific reference intervals are used for hormone-related tests in addition to several indispensable primary care tests, such as those for cholesterol, liver and kidney function, and red and white blood cell levels. Until such reference intervals are established for the transgender population, lab professionals should use hormone therapy status and clinical judgment to assess abnormal test results in transgender individuals.
“Understanding gender incongruence, the clinical changes associated with gender transition, and systemic barriers that maintain a gender/sex binary are key to providing adequate healthcare to the transgender community,” said Greene. “Transgender appropriate reference interval studies are virtually absent from within the medical literature and should be explored. The laboratory has an important role in improving the physiological understanding, electronic medical system recognition, and overall social awareness of the transgender community.”
College students who belong to sexual minority groups are more likely to seek help for mental health problems than their straight peers, but they still face many barriers to using on-campus mental health services, according to a new RAND Corporation study.
Researchers found that students who identify themselves as lesbian, gay, bisexual, queer or questioning were more likely to use off-campus mental health services than their heterosexual peers and were more likely to report being deterred by barriers such as concerns over confidentiality and uncertainty over eligibility for on-campus services.
The findings are from one of the largest surveys ever of college students about mental health issues. More than 33,000 students from 33 public four-year and two-year colleges in California were surveyed about mental health needs during 2013. The study was published online by the Journal of Adolescent Health.
“It’s encouraging that college students who identify as sexual minorities are more likely to utilize mental health services, but our findings suggest there is a need to develop campus-based mental health services tailored to this group and address barriers to using them,” said Michael S. Dunbar, lead author of the study and an associate behavioral scientist at RAND, a nonprofit research organization.
The study found that 7 percent — roughly 1 in 15 — of the students surveyed identified as being lesbian, gay, bisexual, queer or questioning.
Compared to heterosexual students, sexual minority students had higher rates of psychological distress (26 percent versus 18 percent), were more likely to report academic impairment related to mental health problems (17 percent versus 11 percent) and reported higher overall levels of stress over the past month (63 percent versus 55 percent).
Members of sexual minority groups were nearly twice as likely to have used some type of mental health services during their time in college (31 percent versus 18 percent). Among all students, most of those who reported serious psychological distress did not use mental health services.
Among students who needed services but didn’t get them on campus, sexual minority individuals were more likely than their heterosexual peers to report specific barriers to using on-campus mental health services. In particular, sexual minority students endorsed concerns over confidentiality, embarrassment over using services and uncertainty over whether they would be eligible for services as reasons they did not use on-campus services. They also were more likely to report seeking help off-campus.
“Our study underscores the need for additional actions to increase access to and use of mental health services among all students,” said Dr. Bradley D. Stein, co-author of the study and a physician scientist at RAND. “It also highlights the need for efforts to ensure that campuses’ mental health services are sensitive and responsive to the needs of sexual minority students, enabling all students to address their mental health needs and maximize their chances for success in college and beyond.”
Previous studies have estimated that 17 percent or more of college students suffer from serious psychological distress, with risks being higher for lesbian, gay, bisexual, queer or questioning students. If unaddressed, psychological problems among college students often persist, with consequences including greater levels of substance abuse, lower academic achievement, poor graduation rates, and lower workforce participation and income.
Few studies have examined ways that sexual minority college students differ from heterosexual students on factors such as mental health status and their use of mental health services.
The RAND study analyzed information from a survey about mental health completed by students from nine University of California campuses, nine California State University campuses and 15 California community colleges. The results were weighted to help reflect the state’s overall college student population.
Support for the study was provided by California Mental Health Services Authority (CalMHSA), an organization of county governments working to improve mental health outcomes for individuals, families and communities in California. Programs implemented by CalMHSA are funded by counties through Proposition 63, which provides the funding and framework needed to expand mental health prevention and early intervention services to previously underserved populations and all of California.
Other authors of the study are Lisa Sontag-Padilla, Rajeev Ramchand and Rachana Seelam.
A new study demonstrates that gender dysphoria in individuals with coexisting psychotic disorders can be adequately diagnosed and safely treated with gender affirming psychological, endocrine, and surgical therapies. The study is published in LGBT Health, a peer-reviewed journal from Mary Ann Liebert, Inc., publishers. The article is available free on the LGBT Health Web site until May 3, 2017.
In this novel and important report, Julia Meijer, MD, PhD, Guus Eeckhout, MD, Roy van Vlerken, MD, and Annelou de Vries, MD, PhD, VU University Medical Center, Amsterdam, The Netherlands, describe a small series of case studies involving transgender men and women ages 29–57 years diagnosed with gender dysphoria and schizophrenia-related disorders who underwent gender affirmative treatment with a minimum follow-up of 3 years.
“Gender dysphoria in the context of a coexisting psychotic disorder can be mistaken for a gender-themed delusion; however, Dr. Meijer and colleagues show that it can be accurately differentiated from psychosis and safely treated with adherence to and satisfaction with gender affirming therapies,” says LGBT Health Editor-in-Chief William Byne, MD, PhD, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, New York, NY.
Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people are at high risk for being victims of physical and sexual assault, harassment, bullying, and hate crimes, according to a new study by RTI International.
In a newly published report, funded by RTI, RTI researchers analyzed 20 years’ worth of published studies on violence and the LGBTQ+ community, which included 102 peer-reviewed papers as well as a few unpublished analyses and non-peer-reviewed papers. With The Henne Group, RTI also carried out a series of focus-group discussions with LGBTQ+ communities in San Francisco; New York City; Durham, North Carolina; and rural Wyoming.
“Our research indicates that LGBTQ+ people face significant danger in their daily lives – and that their victimization affects their education, safety, and health,” said Tasseli McKay, a social scientist at RTI and the study’s lead author.
The researchers found that in a range of studies with LGBTQ+ individuals, victimization experiences are clearly and consistently correlated with behavioral health conditions and suicidality, sexual risk-taking and HIV status, other long-term physical health issues, and decreased school involvement and achievement. Such effects are often sustained many years after a victimization event.
The focus groups touched on a variety of topics including bullying, hate crimes, harassment and violence.
A transgender participant in a focus group held in Durham, North Carolina said, “Once you’ve been read as being a trans person, you check out, they check out. For us it’s safety. For them, it’s discomfort. It’s a heightened stigmatization.”
Other key findings from the report include:
Despite a public perception of greater acceptance of LGBTQ+ individuals in present-day society, disparities in victimization have remained the same or increased since the 1990s.
Schools are a special concern. Many LGBTQ+ youth reported being afraid or feeling unsafe at school, and school-based victimization of LGBTQ+ youth was associated with decreased school attendance, poorer school performance, and steeply increased risk of suicide attempts.
Contradicting the common perception of hate-related victimization as being committed by strangers or acquaintances, LGBTQ+ people are often victimized by close family members, particularly their own parents and, for bisexual women, their male partners.
“We need more research to better understand what policies will provide LGBTQ+ youth with safer school and home environments, what resources provide LGBTQ+ people who are victims of violence the best support and how we can ultimately create a larger societal climate that doesn’t tolerate persistent, pervasive, lifelong victimization,” McKay said.
A new survey from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shows that California’s uninsured rate has fallen to a new record low of 7.1 percent, which is significantly lower than the 17 percent the CDC found in 2013.
“Covered California is proud to be part of the effort that is helping millions of people get the coverage and care they need,” said Covered California Executive Director Peter V. Lee. “From expanding Medi-Cal to launching a competitive state-based marketplace, California is empowering consumers and providing quality and value.”
The CDC survey, which covered January to September 2016, also showed a dramatic improvement when compared to national averages.
Prior to the Affordable Care Act, California’s uninsured rate for all ages was higher than the national average, 17 percent compared to 14.4 percent. Since that time, California has fallen below the national average and is dropping at a significantly faster pace. The CDC says the difference between the two rates was one percentage point at the end of 2015. The difference between the two rates has now increased to 1.7 percentage points, 7.1 percent in California compared to 8.8 percent nationally.
Uninsured Rate By Years
2016 (Jan. to Sept.)
Covered California noted that this data does not include the recent open enrollment period that closed on Jan. 31 — during which more than 412,000 Californians signed up for coverage.
Now that open enrollment has ended, Covered California has begun new marketing focused on enrolling those who are eligible to sign up now due to changes in their life circumstances, such as losing their health care coverage, getting married, having a child or moving.
Consumers who qualify for Medi-Cal may enroll through Covered California year round.
For more information, consumers should visit CoveredCA.com, where they can enroll online or get information about obtaining free, confidential in-person assistance in a variety of languages. They can find a certified enroller at a storefront in their area or have a certified enroller contact them through the “Help on Demand” feature.
Consumers can also enroll over the phone by calling Covered California at (800) 300-1506.
A recent and unscientific polling of some LGBTs about human papillomavirus (HPV) ventured some guesses: “Isn’t that the name of the warts people get on their junk?”; “That’s what women get that causes cervical cancer.”; “Doesn’t it give lesbians throat cancer?”
The depth of our common knowledge about HPV isn’t substantial, which is to say it’s kind of like everyone else’s understanding of it. But certain factors in LGBT populations increase our risk of some serious health outcomes, including cancer.
“Pretty much everyone is infected with HPV at some point in their life,” says physician Judith Shlay, interim director of Denver Public Health and director of immunization at the health department’s travel clinic. “It’s been around a long, long time.”
The virus is spread through vaginal, oral, and anal sex. The issue with HPV is that it often hides; not everyone infected will exhibit genital warts. And condoms — the prophylactic mainstay in the prevention of so many other STIs, including HIV/AIDS — don’t completely protect against the virus, as HPV resides on the skin on and around the carrier’s head, mouth, throat, vulva, cervix, vagina, penis, and anus.
There are more than 100 strains of HPV, and most are — relatively speaking — harmless. In the majority of infections, the immune system takes care of HPV on its own. But roughly 40 strains may cause genital warts, and strains number 6 and number 11 have a 90% chance of causing an unsightly outbreak down below.
“High-risk types of HPV can cause pre-cancerous changes not only on the cervix — which is what’s most commonly considered with HPV — but also on the penis, in the anus, and in the throat,” Shlay says.
HPV strains 16 and 18 are the particularly nasty ones most linked to cervical and anal cancer, while 31 and 33 have been associated with cancer of the throat and penis. The LGBT community is about 44% more likely than straight adults to smoke cigarettes, and those infected run 2.5 times the risk of getting oral cancer as nonsmokers who are infected; heavy drinkers with HPV are three times as likely to develop oral cancer as non-drinkers with HPV.
Cancer Network estimates that 93% of HIV-positive gay and bisexual men have anal HPV infections, compared with 50% or less of heterosexual men. Because of the increased suppression of the immune system due to HIV/AIDS, the likelihood of anal and genital warts that are frequent, aggressive, and of abnormal composition needs to be minded. Regular screenings are recommended for those who are affected by both viruses.
Currently, there’s no cure, which is why Shlay stresses urgency in getting vaccinated. “People in the U.S. have done well with cervical prevention because we have a pap smear test — it picks up anything abnormal, then we address it before it progresses,” she says. Additionally, abnormalities of the penis are more noticeable, “but with the throat or anus, you can’t always see them. We try to vaccinate younger people before they become sexually active — only the vaccine can prevent you from getting [HPV].”
Abstinence is recommended, but for most, that’s a no-go. Condoms can assist somewhat, but again, there’s no guarantee. Sex toys can be infected by either you or your last partner, so they must be properly cleaned or even replaced after use with each partner.
Shlay wants parents and young adults to shirk the notion that protection against HPV is a “girl’s vaccine.” “By reducing the burden of the virus in girls, you reduce the burden of the virus in boys,” she adds. Those between the ages of 11 and 26 have two options for a vaccine: Gardasil (for both males and females) and Cervarix (for cisgender females and trans males).
For cisgender women and trans men, regular pap tests are your best bet for awareness of what’s going on inside you. There are anal pap smear cancer-screening tests for men who have sex with men, but often they must be requested, as physicians don’t use them routinely.
NASTAD (National Alliance of State and Territorial AIDS Directors), has announced the launch of a new online training platform, HisHealth.org, to help doctors, nurses, and medical professionals unlearn racial biases that create barriers to good care and elevate the quality of healthcare for black gay men and black men who have sex with men.
The barriers for black gay men in search of medical care are high. Even though most medical providers want to give good care, only 1 in 3 doctors know what PrEP is — a groundbreaking HIV prevention medication; many doctors aren’t versed in providing quality care for LGBTQ people; and research indicates implicit bias has lead to subpar care for Black Americans. “His Health” gives accredited in-depth training for medical professionals alongside stories of the best care programs in the country.
“Finding a good doctor as a black gay man with HIV is incredibly difficult,” said Terrance Moore, Deputy Executive Director at NASTAD. “Research shows that implicit bias stops many doctors from providing high-quality care to black Americans. Add to that a lack of understanding about the sexual health care needs of LGBT patients — and many men I know would rather stay home. That’s why this new tool is so important — we can help doctors fight implicit bias and provide better care.”
Provides accredited and expert-led continuing education courses that count towards the credits medical professionals already need to maintain their medical licensure;
Offers portraits of innovative models of care including Project Silk, a CDC funded, Pittsburgh -based recreational safe space and sexual health center rooted in house ball culture and Connecting Resources for Urban Sexual Health, a sexual health clinic created by and for LGBTQ youth of color; and
Gives easy access to evidence-based resources to support the delivery of high quality, culturally affirming healthcare services for Black men who have sex with men.
“There is a lot of discussion right now about implicit bias and police brutality in the U.S. — but the truth is, this is a huge challenge for health care providers as well,” said Omoro Omoighe, Associate Director of Health Equity and Health Care Access at NASTAD. “We know doctors and nurses desperately wish to offer culturally affirming healthcare that is stigma free to Black LGBT patients. With the advent of His Health, they now have the tools necessary to tackle implicit bias and feel more confident in their ability to uplift the standard of care for black gay men while maintaining their licensure to practice medicine.”
The His Health platform was developed for and by Black same gender loving men and their healthcare providers in partnership with NASTAD and the Health Resources Services Administration’s HIV/AIDS Bureau (HRSA/HAB) in response to the high HIV rates amongst black men who have sex with men.