Gay teens at least twice as likely to use illegal drugs, study suggests

From NBC News online

Lesbian, gay, bisexual and questioning (LGBQ) teens are at least twice as likely as their heterosexual peers to use illegal drugs like cocaine, ecstasy, heroin and methamphetamines, a U.S. study suggests. Previous research suggests that stressors related to being closeted or coming out and being rejected by family or friends could contribute to an increased risk of substance use among sexual minority teens, senior study author John Ayers of San Diego State University in California said.

For the new study, researchers looked at data from roughly 14,703 high school students who had been surveyed about their lifetime and prior-month use of 15 different substances, including illegal drugs as well as tobacco, alcohol and prescription drugs that weren’t given to them by a physician.

LGBQ youth were more than three times more likely to try heroin or methamphetamines at least once, and more than twice as likely to try ecstasy or cocaine, the study also found.

Stressors faced by LGBQ teens, such as stigma and isolation, “may make drugs foolishly appear attractive as a coping mechanism,” Ayers said by email. “Even experimentation with these harder drugs can derail a teen’s future,” he said.

The vast majority of teens didn’t use illegal drugs, regardless of sexual orientation, researchers report in the American Journal of Public Health.

Read the full article on NBC News.

Why STDs are on the rise in America

From the Economist online

Much of the increase in STDs has come from gay and bisexual men. Although a relatively small share of the population, they accounted for 81% of male syphilis cases in 2016, according to the Centres for Disease Control. As with heterosexuals, this seems to be because sex is now seen as less risky. That is due to the advent of PrEP, a prophylactic drug cocktail which gay men can take to nearly inoculate themselves from HIV. The reduced chances of catching HIV—along with the fact that a positive diagnosis is no longer a death sentence—seems to encourage men to drop their guard. A recent study of gay and bisexual men, published in the Lancet, a medical journal, found that as more began taking PrEP, rates of consistent condom usage dropped from 46% to 31%. Recent studies have shown that uptake of PrEP is strongly associated with increased rates of STD infection.

All this shows that changing sexual mores, and a reduced fear of the risks of unprotected sex, seem to be at fault—especially since the problem is not just limited to America. England experienced a 20% increase in syphilis diagnoses in 2017 and a 22% increase in those of gonorrhoea. Other countries in western Europe have seen ever worse outbreaks, sometimes exceeding 50%. Dwindling public spending on STD prevention—which in America has fallen by 40% in real terms since 2003—is not helping matters. Yet the chief methods of prevention, abstinence and condoms, are tried and true. Should these options seem too chaste or chaffing, then prospective partners ought to get an STD test (especially since most infections can be cleared up with a simple course of antibiotics). Verified testing is vital since verbal assurances, especially on the cusp of a liaison, can be misleading.

Read the full article.

Gay or bi men who disclose sexual history may get better healthcare

From Reuters online

Young men who have sex with men (MSM) who disclose their sexual orientation or behavior to a health care provider are more likely to receive appropriate healthcare, new data suggest.

Dr. Elissa Meites of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and her colleagues studied 817 MSM, ages 18 to 26, who had seen a healthcare provider in the past year. Men who had disclosed were more than twice as likely as those who had not to have received the full panel of recommended screenings and vaccines, the researchers found.

The CDC and the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices recommend that MSM be screened for HIV, syphilis, gonorrhea and chlamydia at least once a year, and immunized against hepatitis A and B and human papillomavirus (HPV), Meites and her colleagues note the journal Sexually Transmitted Diseases. Overall, 67 percent of the study participants had received all four recommended STI screenings, but that was true for only 51 percent of the MSM who had never disclosed. Nine percent overall had received all vaccinations, compared to six percent of those who hadn’t disclosed.

The pattern was similar when researchers looked to see how many participants received all seven recommended services. The rate was just seven percent for the overall study population, but it was even lower – at less than four percent – for the MSM who hadn’t disclosed.

Read the full article.

Here’s how to get good healthcare as a queer person

From Seventeen.com

Navigating the healthcare world as a queer person can be tricky, which is why HERE asked aspiring healthcare professionals who have *been there* to share their advice for how to make trips to the doc work best for you. A little about this duo: Mia is enrolled in an accelerated nursing program and Maggie is taking pre-requisites for a future degree in occupational therapy. And one thing that they agree on is that their roles as future providers will be heavily influenced by their experiences as queer patients. “Now in our early 20’s, we have grown up navigating doctors’ visits and other healthcare experiences that were not always LGBTQ+ friendly, if we even ‘outed’ ourselves to our doctors at all,” says Mia. “In reflecting on some of these experiences, we’ve realized how important and rewarding, albeit difficult, advocating for your own care can be.”

Here are their tips for getting proper healthcare as a queer person.

 

 

Bisexual men have higher risk of heart disease

From Medical Daily

The research team analyzed data on 7,731 male participants between the ages of 20 to 59. They were divided into four groups based on their sexual identities: gay men, heterosexual men, bisexual men, and heterosexual men who have sex with men.

The two objectives of the study were to examine heart disease diagnoses among men of different sexual orientations and also measure their modifiable risk factors for heart disease.

While no correlation was found between sexual identities and heart disease diagnoses, bisexual men were found to have higher rates of several risk factors for heart disease compared to heterosexual men. These included mental distress, obesity, elevated blood pressure, etc.

The other three groups were found to have similar heart disease risk. The only difference observed in health behavior was that gay men reported lower binge drinking than straight men.

“Our findings highlight the impact of sexual orientation, specifically sexual identity, on the cardiovascular health of men and suggest clinicians and public health practitioners should develop tailored screening and prevention to reduce heart disease risk in bisexual men,” said lead author Billy Caceres, an adjunct faculty member at Rory Meyers College of Nursing, New York University.

Read the full article.

Gay men experience more depression and suicide

From Psychology Today

It’s well known to the point of stereotype that gay men experience higher rates of HIV, substance abuse, and suicide. But it’s less known, and hardly talked about, that we also have much higher rates of depression, especially those of us living with HIV, despite the causal relationship of depression and self-medicating and self-harming behavior.

You might call depression the big gray elephant in the room staring us in the face as we do our best to ignore it.

The 2013 fifth edition of the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual  (DSM) defines depression clinically as a depressive mood or loss of interest or pleasure in nearly all activities over a two-week period, along with four of these symptoms: “changes in appetite or weight, sleep, and psychomotor activity; decreased energy; feelings of worthlessness or guilt; difficulty thinking, concentrating, or making decisions; or recurrent thoughts of death or suicidal ideation or suicide plans or attempts.”

Although depression affects both men and women, men kill themselves at rates four times higher than women. Of the 41,149 suicides in the U.S. in 2013, nearly 80 percent were men.

[…]

An American study of gay men found that those who perceived increased homophobia and danger were more likely to report depressive symptoms. Feeling unaccepted and rejected by the gay community—as do too many gay and bisexual men of color and those living with HIV—were also found to increase the risk for depression.

Read the full article.

The impact of sexual health on your mind, body, and spirit

From thebody.com

If you’ve googled “sexual health” recently, you know the only results are how to improve sexual performance. Well, you can’t improve anything until you know you’re educated on what you like and are being true to yourself. But what does that really mean?

Sexual health is the state of being mentally, physically and socially comfortable with your sexuality. Everyone’s definition of sexual health is personal, but here are a few universal tips anyone can practice (read the full article).