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).

Teens who hide their sexual orientation have higher suicide risk

From Reuters Health

Teens who hide their true sexual orientation are at higher risk for suicidal behaviors, a new study suggests.

The study focused on teens who either identified as gay or lesbian but had sexual contact with only the opposite sex or with both sexes, or who identified as heterosexual but had sexual contact with only the same sex or with both sexes.

These teens – who are experiencing what researchers call sexual orientation discordance – have a significantly elevated risk for suicide, investigators warn in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

Researchers surveyed nearly 7,000 high school students from across the U.S., asking 99 questions about health and risk behaviors. Two of the questions focused on sexual orientation.

About 4 percent of the teens had experienced sexual orientation discordance, responses showed. This was true for 32 percent of gay and lesbian students, compared to 3 percent of heterosexual students.

Read the full article on Reuters Health.

Coming out to your doctor in rural America

From NPR online

Finding the perfect doctor can be a feat for anyone. And a poll conducted by NPR, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health finds that 18 percent of all LGBTQ Americans refrain from seeing a physician for fear of discrimination.

One of those people is 20-year-old Alex Galvan. The moment right before he told his doctor earlier this year that he is gay and sexually active felt like a nightmare. Galvan lives in rural Tulare County in California’s Central Valley. He wanted to start a regimen of medication that helps prevent HIV infection, an approach called “pre-exposure prophylaxis,” or PrEP.

Alex Galvan

“Sitting in the waiting room was kind of like, ‘you got this, you’re just asking for a medication to help you,’ ” Galvan says, remembering what was going through his head before he came out to the doctor. “He’s not going to flip out. And then the moment before was, ‘Oh gosh, here it goes.’ ”

His doctor didn’t know about PrEP, and Galvan thought he was going to be rejected. Instead, his physician educated himself.

“I was kind of scared that he didn’t know what it was, but I was also relieved because I let him do most of the research,” Galvan says. “Yeah, and then I cried a little bit in the car, because I didn’t know what just had happened and it all kind of blurred together.”

Pediatrician Kathryn Hall knows about these concerns all too well. She has been practicing medicine in Tulare County for over a decade, and time and time again, her patients tell her they’re afraid to come out to their other doctors. A few years ago, she got so fed up that she surveyed more than 500 nearby doctors asking them basic questions about being welcoming. “I made the bar very, very low because we just didn’t get much education on LGBT health in medical school,” says Hall. “That is starting to change.”

Around 120 doctors responded to Hall’s survey, and most of them said they would be happy to serve this group. Hall says there are lots of ways that doctors can make it clear they’re accepting — a little rainbow flag on the door or taking out ad in a local magazine.

“Many of the physicians that I know are LGBT-friendly, but patients don’t know that and are very afraid that they’re being judged,” Hall says.

Read the full article on NPR.

 

‘Double discrimination,’ loneliness contribute to bisexual health disparities, study says

From NBC News online

“Double discrimination” and loneliness put bisexual individuals at “higher risk for poor mental health outcomes,” according to a recent study out of American University. The study compared the mental health of bisexual men and women to that of gay men, lesbians and heterosexuals.

“Bisexual people face double discrimination in multiple settings — bisexual people are often invisible, rejected, invalidated [and] stigmatized in the heterosexual community as well as the traditional LGBTQ communities,” Ethan Mereish, an assistant professor at American University and the study’s lead author, told NBC News. “Given that isolation and discrimination, bi people might be experiencing increase factors that might make them more lonely or isolated.”

Previous research has shown that lesbian, gay and bisexual individuals broadly face higher rates of mental health issues than their straight counterparts. Yet there are mental health disparities that the bisexual community faces at higher rates than even gays and lesbians. That said, the American University study surveyed 503 bisexual adults ranging in age from 18 to 64 to hone in on their unique minority stressors and the effects they have on mental health.

“This study adds to the growing body of research confirming that bisexual people face unique mental health disparities [that are] closely related to stigma and discrimination [they face] from straight, gay and lesbian communities,” Heron Greenesmith, a senior policy analyst at LGBTQ advocacy organization Movement Advancement Project, said. “Internal stigma adds another barrier to bisexual people.”

Greenesmith, whose organization has compiled a number of studies and reports that point to the relatively poor health of the bisexual community, said this latest study makes it “even more clear that the bisexual community needs tailored mental health services.”

Read the full article.