LGBT to be included in collection of U.S. health data

From the Huffington Post:

For the first time, lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender populations will be included in the National Health Interview Survey — one of the key sources used to gauge the health of Americans. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced Wednesday morning that it will add questions on sexual orientation to the survey by 2013 and begin efforts to collect data on gender identity.

In a statement, HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius hailed the move as essential to helping policymakers and researchers identify health issues among LGBT populations, for which there is notoriously little data.

Read the full article on the Huffington Post.

News Release: Largest health group joins leading public health authorities in condemning marriage discrimination

From the Gay and Lesbian Medical Association:

NEWS RELEASE
June 27, 2011

New York, NY, June 27, 2011 – With the New York State now the sixth – and largest – state to end the exclusion of same-sex couples from marriage, the American Medical Association (AMA) adopted a policy position declaring that excluding same-sex couples from marriage is “discriminatory” and reaffirming existing AMA policy to support relationship recognition of gay and lesbian couples as a means of addressing health disparities faced by those couples and their families.

“With this deliberate policy statement by the American Medical Association, the nation’s doctors diagnose the pain and injury that exclusion from marriage inflicts on lesbian and gay couples, their children, and loved ones – and make clear that ending marriage discrimination is the cure,” said Evan Wolfson, founder and President of Freedom to Marry. “The AMA now joins every other mainstream public health organization in America in making the case for providing the freedom to marry – and the critical safety-net that comes with marriage – to loving, committed same-sex couples.”

The policy, H-65.973 Health Care Disparities in Same-Sex Partner Households, was adopted the AMA on Monday, June 20th, and states: Our American Medical Association: (1) recognizes that denying civil marriage based on sexual orientation is discriminatory and imposes harmful stigma on gay and lesbian individuals and couples and their families; (2) recognizes that exclusion from civil marriage contributes to health care disparities affecting same-sex households; (3) will work to reduce health care disparities among members of same-sex households including minor children; and (4) will support measures providing same-sex households with the same rights and privileges to health care, health insurance, and survivor benefits, as afforded opposite-sex households.

To read the full press release, go to the Gay and Lesbian Medical Association Website.

 

New Pitt Study Shows Gay and Bi Youth Experience Abuse More Often

Press release from UPMC and the University of Pittsburgh:

PITTSBURGH, June 22, 2011 – Young people who identify themselves as gay, lesbian or bisexual, experience same-sex attractions or engage in same-sex sexual ehaviors are more likely to experience sexual abuse, parental physical abuse and bullying from peers than other youth, according to a University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health study.

In addition, these adolescents – identified as “sexual minority youth” in the study – are more likely to miss school due to fear. The American Public Health Association recently published the findings online; the study will appear in the August issue of the American Journal of Public Health.

“The higher rates of abuse experienced by sexual minority youths are clearly one of the driving mechanisms underlying higher rates of mental health problems, substance use, risky sexual behavior and HIV by sexual minority adolescents and adults,” said Mark S. riedman, Ph.D., assistant professor of behavioral and community health sciences. “However, I cannot stress enough that these youth experience sexual and physical abuse and bullying because they identify as gay, lesbian or bisexual or experience same-sex attraction; abuse does not ‘cause’ sexual orientation or identification.”

Go to the UPMC Media Relations Website for the full press release.

Gay youth more at risk for health issues says recent CDC study

A recent national study of American high school students finds that those who identify as gay, lesbian or bisexual are more likely than their heterosexual counterparts to take unhealthy risks.

The study, conducted by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, used national survey data from 2001-2009. It found that rates of smoking, drinking or other drug use, risky sexual behaviors, suicidal behaviors and violence were higher among gay or bisexual teens than among their straight peers

“This report should be a wake-up call for families, schools and communities that we need to do a much better job of supporting these young people. Any effort to promote adolescent health and safety must take into account the additional stressors these youth experience because of their sexual orientation, such as stigma, discrimination and victimization,” Howell Wechsler, director of CDC’s Division of Adolescent and School Health (DASH), said in an agency news release. “We are very concerned that these students face such dramatic disparities for so many different health risks.”

The findings were published in the CDC’s journal, Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. You can read more about the report on the Advocate.com, Time.com, and  CNN.com.

Syphilis still a danger to gay and bi men in PA

Almost a year ago, the Pitt Men’s Study sent out an alert about the rise in Syphilis cases in Pennsylvania. Unfortunately, the number of new infections is still on the rise. The disturbing fact is that the surge is being driven by cases among men who have sex with men (MSM).

Signs of Syphilis

Syphilis usually begins with the appearance of a sore (called a chancre) about 10 to 90 days after exposure. The chancre is usually
firm, round, small, and painless. The chancre lasts 3 to 6 weeks, and it heals on its own. However, the infection doesn’t go away without proper treatment.

As the disease progresses, it can include fever, swollen lymph glands, rash, sore throat, patchy hair loss, headaches, weight loss,
muscle aches, and fatigue. The signs of this “secondary stage” of syphilis will resolve with or without treatment, but, again, it doesn’t go away.

In its later stages, years later, the disease can cause damage to internal organs, the brain, nerves, eyes, heart, blood vessels,
liver, bones, and joints. Signs and symptoms of the “late stage” include difficulty coordinating muscle movements, paralysis, numbness, gradual blindness, and dementia. This damage may be serious enough to cause death.

What can you do?

Get tested. Syphilis is easily cured in its early stages. A single injection of penicillin will cure a person who has had syphilis for less
than a year.

For more information about MSM and syphilis, you can go to the CDC’s Syphilis and MSM web page

You can also go to the STD testing resource page. Enter your zip code to find testing centers near you.

How safe is oral sex?

People often ask me how risky is oral sex? For the longest time, we knew that oral sex was safer than anal sex but we couldn’t put a number to it. Well, the CDC has come out with a graph that pretty much sums it up.

As you can see, being the “top” in generally safer than being a “bottom.” That is, if you’re getting cum in your body, you’re at a much greater risk. Just speaking of anal sex, for example, the top is 13 times more likely to get HIV (when not using a condom), as apposed to the bottom being 2,000 times more at risk.

Keep in mind too, the number of sex partners you have makes a difference, which isn’t represented here. It only takes one HIV positive person to pass on the infection, but the larger the number of sex partners, the greater your chances of having sex with someone who is, in fact, HIV positive.