The gay sex questions you’re afraid to ask your doctor

From the Huffington Post

No one likes going to the doctor. It’s scary.

But for gay men, it’s even scarier. For one, gay men experience a great deal of stigma and shaming, which makes difficult conversations even harder. Gay men, as a population, are also at higher risk for certain sexually transmitted diseases and conditions. That’s also scary. Lastly, predicting a health care provider’s response to gay-specific isn’t easy. Some doctors are totally comfortable talking about gay sex and gay men’s health; in other instances, doctors shut down entirely.

The reality is, gay men need to feel empowered to have difficult conversations with their doctor. After all, your life is literally on the line. And if your doctor doesn’t respond with professionalism and understanding, it’s time to find someone new.

To get the ball rolling, I asked the gay internet (i.e., my Facebook page) for questions that they’re afraid to ask their doctor — and walked the walk by asking my own doctor, Dr. Jay Gladstein. Here’s what he had to say:

“Half of black men who have sex with men (MSM) will be diagnosed with HIV during their lifetime”

From the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)…

If current HIV diagnoses rates persist, about 1 in 2 black men who have sex with men (MSM) and 1 in 4 Latino MSM in the United States will be diagnosed with HIV during their lifetime, according to a new analysis by researchers at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The study, presented today at the Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections in Bostonprovides the first-ever comprehensive national estimates of the lifetime risk of an HIV diagnosis for several key populations at risk and in every state.

croi_lifetime_risk_msm_race_ethnicity

“As alarming as these lifetime risk estimates are, they are not a foregone conclusion. They are a call to action,” said Jonathan Mermin, M.D., director of CDC’s National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD, and Tuberculosis Prevention. “The prevention and care strategies we have at our disposal today provide a promising outlook for future reductions of HIV infections and disparities in the U.S., but hundreds of thousands of people will be diagnosed in their lifetime if we don’t scale up efforts now.”

Read the full article on the CDC’s Website.

 

Defaced sign won’t deter medical practice from its mission

From the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

A few profane words, scrawled on a sign outside her North Side office Friday afternoon, served as a cruel reminder to Stacy Lane that hate and ignorance still exist.

Dr. Lane, who specializes in care to the LGBT community, said the homophobic and profane graffiti saddened her. But she has a message that is more important and will connect with more people, she said.

“We all need to treat each other with dignity and respect,” she said, standing along the defaced sign for the Central Wellness Outreach Center on Anderson Street. “I think if you spend time with people, one-on-one, it changes your perspective. We all have the same struggles, we all want to be successful, we all want to have our bills paid, we all want to find love. Sometimes that love is a little different, that’s all. If they just took time to meet someone that was different from them, they’d change their mind.”

Dr. Lane opened her practice in the Timber Court building Aug. 3 and has already treated more than 800 patients , most of them members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community.

“We do hormone therapy for people that are transgender,” she said. “We have a very nonjudgmental approach, and that’s really important to us. We treat people who are active in their addictions. We treat people who are sex workers or prostitutes for STDs. And we try to engage people that are marginalized in the health care system, that don’t necessarily fit into the big-box health care. We do needle exchanges, and we try to make it a very accessible health care program.”

This was the first incident of vandalism at the facility, which filed a police report about the vandalism. Dr. Lane said the neighborhood has been welcoming and supportive of her practice.

The blade sign, which is placed outside the building each morning and taken inside each night, depicts a person reaching over a rainbow toward the stars. It’s value is about $200, Dr. Lane said.

“Unfortunately, many people that I serve are used to being victimized and marginalized,” she said. “They’re used to having to deal with this on some low level regularly in their lives. That saddens me deeply, that this happened in my space. We intentionally try to make a space that’s welcoming, where this doesn’t happen.”

Dr. Lane said the only change she anticipates in the wake of the incident is the purchase of four more signs — to show that her work will go on.

“I think that awareness that these kind of things still go on is important for Pittsburgh, as a city and us as a community, to realize,” she said. “There are people still out there that hate for no good reason.

“Many people have felt marginalized at some point in their lives, probably including the people that write these type of messages. I would encourage all people to take a good look at themselves and their lives and their families. I would think that most of us would be hard-pressed to have a family that doesn’t have someone that doesn’t necessarily fit into the box that the rest of us fit into.

“We have to remember that we don’t have to like each other. We don’t have to agree with each other’s opinions. But we do have to treat each other with dignity and respect.”

 

Save the date: PATF 30th Annual Benefit will be held on April 14

The Pittsburgh AIDS Task Force will host their 30th Annual Benefit at WQED’s Studios on Fifth on Thursday, April 14, 2016.

PATF BenefitThe 30th Annual Benefit is a festive and fun evening that will feature nationally renowned DJ Jeffrey Sfire. Exquisite food and beverages will be provided by Common Plea Catering. The VIP reception begins at 6 p.m. and general admission will begin at 7:30 p.m.

As a part of this event, PATF will present the Kerry Stoner Award — named after PATF’s founder — in recognition of extraordinary service to the community related to HIV care and prevention. This year, we are proud to present this award to our own Dr. Anthony Silvestre, HIV activist and Principle investigator of the Pitt Men’s Study, in honor of his long-time outstanding support of PATF and people living with and affected by HIV/AIDS.

 Tickets are on sale now!

Contact Patrick Buehler, Development Associate, for more information: pbuehler@patf.org / 412-345-0593.

Dept of Health launches program providing coverage for uninsured with Hep C and HIV

 
Harrisburg, PA – Pennsylvania Secretary of Health Dr. Karen Murphy and Secretary of Aging Teresa Osborne announced today the Special Pharmaceutical Benefits Program (SPBP) is implementing a pilot program offering no cost coverage of hepatitis C antiviral medications for individuals with a dual diagnosis of HIV and hepatitis C. This pilot program will be a collaboration between the Department of Health (DOH) and the Department of Aging (PDA).
 
“Protecting Pennsylvania’s more vulnerable residents is one of the Wolf Administration’s primary objectives,” said Secretary Murphy. “Providing drug coverage for individuals suffering from hepatitis C or HIV who couldn’t otherwise afford the proper medical treatments is a part of our goal to ensure that every resident of the commonwealth has the ability to access needed medication.” 
 
The $13 million, six-month program will be made available to hundreds of low-income Pennsylvanians with both hepatitis C and HIV and is funded through additional pharmaceutical liability recoveries made by the Department of Aging’s Pharmaceutical Assistance Contract for the Elderly program (PACE), which offers low-cost prescription medication to qualified residents, age 65 and older.
 
“The opportunity to partner with the Department of Health on this pilot program  is an exciting opportunity to leverage 30-plus years of experience administering an effective prescription drug program with the Wolf Administration’s steadfast commitment to support the health of and improve the quality of life for all Pennsylvanians,” said Secretary of Aging Teresa Osborne. 
 
The SPBP is Pennsylvania’s AIDS Drug Assistance Program (ADAP), which is funded by a federal grant through the Health Resources and Services Administration Ryan White HIV/AIDS Part B Program. The SPBP plays a vital role in providing access to medications for people living with HIV, including those with hepatitis C co-infection. The program serves low to moderate income individuals who are underinsured or uninsured and have a diagnosis of HIV. In addition to HIV viral load suppression, maintaining optimal overall health is equally vital to the management of HIV disease and increases the quality of life for commonwealth citizens.
 
Individuals eligible for or enrolled in other prescription plans must utilize those benefits prior to SPBP. For a full list of the medications, the approval criteria, request form and additional details, please go to the SPBP website at:www.health.pa.gov/spbpFor more information about the PACE program, call 1-800-225-7223.

February 7th is National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day

5February 7th marks the 15th annual observance of National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day (NBHAAD). Led by the Strategic Leadership Council, this initiative is designed to increase HIV education, testing, community involvement, and treatment among black communities across the nation.

Compared to other racial/ethnic groups in the United States, blacks/African Americans* account for a disproportionate burden of HIV and AIDS. While blacks represent approximately 12% of the U.S. population, they account for more new HIV infections (44%), people living with HIV (43%), and deaths of persons with diagnosed HIV (48%) than any other racial/ethnic group in the nation. Among blacks, gay and bisexual men, especially young men, are the most affected population—accounting for the majority of new infections.

Read more.