Beauty Tips from Miss Alyssa Edwards and More from this week’s LGBT Wellness Roundup

Each week LGBT HealthLink, a Program of CenterLink, and researcher and blogger Corey Prachniak bring you a round up of some of the biggest LGBT wellness stories from the past seven days. For more LGBT Wellness, visit the page dedicated to the topic here.

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Drag Queen Schools Public on Smoking

This Free Life, the anti-smoking campaign for LGBT youth, launched a series of web videos on beautology – that is, “the science of everyday pageantry” – taught by drag queen Alyssa Edwards. Viewers are urged to maximize their flawlessness by avoiding the physical damage caused by smoking, which queer youth do at a 33% higher rate than their peers.

 

What Protects At-Risk Youth from HPV?

A study of at-risk youth, about half of whom were LGBT, found that only 8% of males and 30% of females had initiated the HPV vaccine, which can prevent cancer. Youth were more likely to do so if they had an annual medical exam, another vaccination, or (among women) a Pap or STI test, which shows the importance integrating HPV vaccination into routine visits.

 

Bad News, Good News on Gender-Affirming Care mn

The Department of Veterans Affairs announced it was canceling recent plans to cover gender-affirming surgeries for transgender veterans, citing concerns over funding. On the other hand, a Minnesota court overturned that state’s ban on gender-affirming surgery for participants in its Medicaid program, saying it violated equal protection of the law.

 

Bisexual Stress Compounds Disparities

A study found that stress related to being bisexual predicted poorer physical health, “above and beyond” that caused by sexual minority stress in general. The discovery may help explain why bisexual folks tend to have worse health than other queer individuals. Surprisingly, bisexual cisgender men had less bisexuality-related stress than did their trans and cisgender female peers.

 

savetatasQueer Women Have Heightened Breast Cancer Risk

Researchers found that while there is insufficient data on whether sexual minority women have higher breast cancer incidence, there is ample evidence that they are at increased risk. Higher rates of smoking, obesity, and alcohol use all point to higher breast cancer risk, and lower rates of healthcare use which may hinder effective screening. Stay healthy and get screened!

 

Key Differences Found in LGBT Asylum Seekers

A study found that compared to others seeking asylum, LGBT asylum seekers were more likely to have experienced sexual violence, childhood persecution, and persecution by their own family, as well as to have suffered from suicidal ideation. Queer asylum seekers may need tailored interventions to heal from these particular kinds of trauma.

Fresh LGBT Wellness News for your Holiday Week

Each week LGBT HealthLink, a Program of CenterLink and researcher and blogger Corey Prachniak bring you a round up of some of the biggest LGBT wellness stories from the past seven days. For more LGBT Wellness, visit the page dedicated to the topic here.

 

Telemedicine Aids Trans Patients

The San Francisco Chronicle reported an uptick in popularity for TransLine, a service that allows doctors nationwide to ask clinical experts for help with trans patients. The volunteer-run service is helping trans individuals get quality care when their local doctor may not have experience in trans health.

 

More Evidence of Queer Smoking Disparities  stopsmoking

Government researchers found that while national smoking rates declined from 21% a decade ago to 15% today, rates among LGB individuals remain high. 19.8% of lesbian and bi women smoke cigarettes, compared to 13.4% of heterosexual women, while 21.5% of gay and bi men smoke, compared to 16.6% of heterosexual men. Factors like being uninsured and having higher levels of psychological distress were also associated with smoking, and are more common among the LGBT community.

 

Trans Stress, Resilience Following Election

A leading crisis hotline for trans individuals reported “a record number of calls” following Tuesday’s election, amid uncertainty as to what would happen to recent Obama administration policies prohibiting trans discrimination in healthcare and schools. Trans advocates, however, vowed to push forward on equality measures with the new administration.

 

stress4 in 10 Experience Stigma – and Have Higher HIV Risk

A study of men who have sex with men found that 41% had experienced at least one, two or all three of the enacted stigma – discrimination, harassment, or assault – based on their sexual orientation in the past year. Moreover, all these experiences were associated with having higher risk factors for HIV infection, such as having condomless sex and more sexual partners, suggesting stigma may contribute to HIV risk.

 

Minority Stress Linked to Partner Violence

A study found that among gay and bi men in Atlanta, experiencing intimate partner violence was correlated with encountering homophobic discrimination, internalized homophobia, and racism. Young men aged 18-24 were most likely to both experience and perpetuate partner violence, with rates dropping considerably among older age groups.

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Bisexual Older Adults Face Worse Health

Researchers found that bisexual older adults face worse health than their lesbian and gay peers. The differences were explained by factors like more internalized stigma, less social support, and lower socioeconomic status, suggesting that improving the health of bi older adults may require addressing underlying social stigma and discrimination.

New Tobacco Infographic Shows Impact on Disparity Populations

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT:
Regina R. Washington, DrPH, Director, LGBT HealthLink
954.765.6024
regina@lgbtcenters.org

Facts at a glance from Achieving Health Equity in Tobacco Control

 

Fort Lauderdale, FL, November 16, 2016 – LGBT HealthLink worked in collaboration with our Sibling National Disparity Networks to create a tool that would provide a fast way to convey how tobacco, the cause of one third of all cancers, has a disproportionate impact on disparity populations. The resulting infographic will aid health officials, health providers, as well as decision makers to highlight pertinent information on the key tobacco related disparities, broaden understanding, and promote ideas for action.

“We hope that this tool will empower our stakeholders to draw attention to key tobacco disparities about each of these priority populations around the nation” stated, Regina R. Washington, LGBT HealthLink Director.

Our Collaborators: National African American Tobacco Prevention Network, National Native Network, The RAISE Network, Nuestras Voces, National Behavioral Health Network for Tobacco and Cancer, Geographic Health Equity Alliance, and SelfMade Health Network.

Please feel free to contact LGBT HealthLink for more information, and to share this infographic widely to motivate your grantees to build disparity population engagement in their daily activities.

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LGBT HealthLink, a program of CenterLink, links people and information to spread LGBT wellness best practices across state departments of health, federal decision makers, and community organizations. We are one of 8 CDC-funded tobacco and cancer disparity networks. www.lgbthealthlink.org.

LGBT HealthLink is supported by Grant Number 5 NU58DP004996-03-00 funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Its contents are solely the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official views of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or the Department of Health and Human Services.

CenterLink was founded in 1994 as a member-based coalition to support the development of strong, sustainable LGBT community centers. A fundamental goal of CenterLink’s work is to help build the capacity of these centers to address the social, cultural, health and political advocacy needs of LGBT community members across the country. CenterLink continues to play an important role in addressing the challenges centers face by helping them to improve their organizational and service delivery capacity, access public resources and engage their regional communities in the grassroots social justice movement. http://www.lgbtcenters.org/

 

What LGBT Health Advocates Can Learn from Colombia

Corey Prachniak - head shot (smaller size) By Corey Prachniak

Corey is a guest blogger and an attorney, LGBT health consultant, and Harvard Kennedy Fellow.

In newly-published research, my colleague Jimena Villar de Onís and I explore the history of Colombia’s HIV movement, which from the beginning was led largely by gay activists and patients. Their efforts are inseparably tied to a broader movement of patients who, over many years of litigation, slowly expanded the idea of a “right to health” in the court system and in public opinion. Today, Colombia has arguably the most progressive right to health in the world, with a healthcare system based on human rights principles and court access when rights are violated – and HIV activists are largely to thank.

Although Colombia’s healthcare system, legal system, and culture all differ from that of the United States, their history has powerful lessons for those working towards health equity for LGBT communities in the U.S.

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Bogota, Colombia – almost 8 million people and growing

Lesson One: Grow the Coalition

What started as a movement exclusively to get life-saving medications for HIV patients grew into a coalition focused on expanding healthcare access for all so-called “high-cost patients.” This included folks with very different backgrounds and conditions, such as people with cancer and those requiring dialysis, but who found common ground in the central failings of the healthcare system. All had been left behind and found strength in numbers.

In this newly-formed coalition, gay activists kept a leading role, which they were prepared for given their experience advocating for LGBT rights and HIV medications. Unlike other patients, HIV and gay activists had a built-in community that gave them organizational strength. They used the power of their community to work with others who had healthcare needs, much as queer activists in the U.S. have fought against Big Tobacco and for improved healthcare coverage, changes that benefit everyone.

Lesson Two: Engage the Public 2016-09-25-13-06-16

Together with their new allies, the HIV activists pushed for government reform by helping patients across Colombia file thousands of lawsuits a year against health insurance companies and the government that regulated them. By 2008, the courts were so overwhelmed with the number of cases that the Constitutional Court took action and said in crystal-clear language that health was a human right, and that the government had violated it by not providing sufficient and equitable care.

When the Colombian president tried to override the decision by issuing executive orders, the people took to the streets by the thousands. Some scholars say that the most important result of the landmark decision was that it changed people’s perceptions of health, from a service to a fundamental right, and thus forced the government to comply with the decision.

Needless to say, U.S. discussions on healthcare and particularly the Affordable Care Act can be less-than-inspiring. Yes, there’s a time to get wonky and debate specifics, but how we frame healthcare – and equal access to it – can change public opinion in a way that rules and regulations can’t. Just look at the way a human rights-based argument changed how our society views same-sex marriage.

Lesson Three: Keep it Inclusive

From the beginning, Colombia’s HIV movement was led by people who had experienced marginalization based on their sexual orientation and HIV status (or even association with a condition that carried such heavy stigma). Nevertheless, inclusion of other marginalized groups did not come easy.

For example, women’s groups essentially had a parallel movement running alongside the main HIV groups, and the leaders of the growing HIV coalition remained mostly men. Transgender individuals and sex workers faced even greater marginalization than gay men, and while international organizations have given funding for work targeting this population, trans folks and sex workers have not had leadership opportunities themselves. Finally, with activism centered in the principal cities like Bogotá, rural people and those in the smaller cities often failed to benefit from the changes that those in the urban centers enjoyed.

Therefore, even in a very successful movement designed to help marginalized people, it wasn’t easy to give everyone a seat at the table – or to presume that what helped urban gay men would equally benefit others impacted by the virus.

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Palace of Justice

The Bottom Line

Despite facing stigma, a seemingly-unstoppable epidemic, and opposition from a conservative culture, gay activists and others at the forefront of Colombia’s HIV movement achieved what is to date the biggest right-to-health success in the world. By making healthcare for marginalized people a matter of human rights, they changed the conversation and made their criticism of the system one to which every Colombian could relate. If we in the U.S. can follow Colombia’s example, maybe we can do for health equity what we did for marriage equality, and usher in a more just healthcare system for all.

 Corey and Jimena’s full publication is available in English and in Spanish here.

Weekly Wellness Roundup Covers It All

Each week LGBT HealthLink, a Program of CenterLink, and researcher and blogger Corey Prachniak, bring you a round up of some of the biggest LGBT wellness stories from the past seven days. For more LGBT Wellness, visit the page dedicated to the topic here.

biunicornBig Bi Study Finds Mixed Results

A study of U.S. adults found that many people neither agreed nor disagreed with stereotypical statements such as “bisexuality is just a phrase” or bisexuals “are incapable of being faithful,” showing the public has yet to reject stigmatizing beliefs on bisexuality. Women felt more positive towards bisexuality than did men, and both genders felt more positive about bi women than about bi men.

 

Cigarette Tax Could Save Queer Lives

The CEO of LA’s LGBT Center argued that California’s proposed tobacco tax – which Californians are voting on as this Roundup is being published – could save LGBT lives… and lots of them. The author points to the fact that queer Californians smoke at more than double the rate of heterosexual Californians, and that tobacco taxes are proven to slash smoking rates.

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Post-ACA, More Queer Men Are Insured

Researchers found that men who have sex with men (MSM) went from being 68% insured in 2008 to 79% insured in 2014, and credit the Affordable Care Act (ACA) as well as marriage equality, which allows same-sex spouses to join employer coverage. The biggest improvements were among younger men, the less educated, and the low-income – but those groups still had lower overall rates.

 

Breast Cancer and Queer Women  pinkribbonrainbow

The Hill reported that lesbian and bisexual women face increased breast cancer risk based on lifestyle factors like smoking and weight, and may be hesitant to share their sexual orientation with their doctors, which further inhibits detection. Meanwhile, the New York Times reports that more women are choosing to forgo breast reconstruction after mastectomy, referred to as “going flat”, – a choice already preferred by many queer women, who see reconstruction as less important for their body image.

 

LGBT Caregivers Face Challenges

US News reports that LGBT caregivers of loved ones with chronic conditions face unique challenges, such as facing discrimination from providers when trying to care for parents, or having to help LGBT friends whose families are unsupportive.

 

Week One, Like a Hurricane – But In a Good Way

reginaby Regina R. Washington, DrPH, Director, LGBT HealthLink at CenterLink

Hi there! My name is Regina.  My first week with LGBT HealthLink at CenterLink has been amazing.  Prior to joining LGBT HealthLink, I searched my heart for answers for my next career step.  I successfully met the challenges of an executive public health administrator for a state health department and enjoyed it; I have served as an assistant professor to interface public health with pharmacy, which I grew professionally.  My heart revealed that I need a combination of the two experiences, that will allow me to work in my passion of promoting healthy lifestyles, eliminating cancer health disparities and working with the vulnerable populations.  Serving as the Director of LGBT HealthLink will provide that professional combination.

FTLA Beach

My first few days in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida has been like a hurricane, but in a positive way.  Ordinarily, November is a chilly and sometimes snowy month, not in Florida.  I could get used to this weather!  The LGBT HealthLink and CenterLink staff have been so welcoming and have made my “on boarding” process very smooth.  My work with LGBT HealthLink will center around tobacco-related and cancer health disparities.  It will take a village to address the tobacco-related and cancer health disparities issues in the LGBT communities, because we will be shifting the culture toward better quality of life, better access to culturally competent health care, and an increased awareness of educational materials and away from high risk health behaviors of smoking, unprotected sex, poor nutrition, and physical inactivity.

How strong is your fight?  The fight for life and pursuit of happiness is compromised by high risk health behaviors, lifestyle choices, and intentional marketing targeting the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) communities.  The actual leading causes of death and disease (tobacco use, poor eating habits, and physical inactivity) in the United States are preventable!  Tobacco use, which studies have shown to be linked to cancer, kills more Americans than suicide, AIDS, homicides, car accidents, and alcohol in one year.1  According to new data collected by the National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) LGB adults, including all races and ethnicities, are more likely to smoke tobacco compared to heterosexual/straight individuals.2 Also, LGBT people are less likely to have health insurance, which may negatively affect access to tobacco cessation treatments, including counseling and medication. Gay, bisexual, and transgender men are 20% less likely than heterosexual/straight men to be aware of smoking quitlines.3

LGBT individuals carry a disproportionate burden of tobacco-related disease, such as Health-Starts-Here-3-2016-printercancer.  Health disparities is a term used to describe the disproportionate burden of disease, injury, death, access to health care services, and other adverse conditions.4 For this reason, the needs of LGBT individuals should be considered in efforts to eliminate health disparities.  One suggested effort to improve the health of the entire community is to provide cultural competency training to health providers.  LGBT HealthLink provides resources to address the health disparities and improve health equity related to LGBT communities.  Strengthen your fight for life and pursuit of happiness… join  HealthLink. Click here to connect and Be One of Us!

CENTERLINK WELCOMES NEW PROGRAM DIRECTOR

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE logo-transparent-250-250

CONTACT:

Terry Stone, CEO

954.765.6024

terry@lgbtcenters.org

Regina R. Washington, DrPH, joins LGBT HealthLink Team

 Fort Lauderdale, FL, October 31, 2016 – CenterLink announced today that Dr. Regina Washington will be joining the LGBT HealthLink team effective November 1, 2016.  Dr. Washington brings over 15 years of experience in community, governmental, and academic leadership with a strong background in strategic planning and program/policy development, implementation, and evaluation.  Her previous experience has focused on health disparities, health education, and health policy, specifically related to tobacco cessation and cancer control.

“Dr. Washington joining CenterLink is a real push to support and advance the important work of LGBT HealthLink to address health disparities and achieve LGBT health equity”, stated Terry Stone, CEO of CenterLink.

reginaDr. Washington said, “I look forward to joining CenterLink as we strive to enhance LGBT health by eliminating tobacco use and reducing cancer.  There is still much to do, and I’m excited to be part of this great team of professionals.”

 

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LGBT HealthLink, a program of CenterLink, links people and information to spread LGBT wellness best practices across state departments of health, federal decision makers, and community organizations. We are one of 8 CDC-funded tobacco and cancer disparity networks. www.lgbthealthlink.org

CenterLink – was founded in 1994 as a member-based coalition to support the development of strong, sustainable LGBT community centers. A fundamental goal of CenterLink’s work is to help build the capacity of these centers to address the social, cultural, health and political advocacy needs of LGBT community members across the country. CenterLink continues to play an important role in addressing the challenges centers face by helping them to improve their organizational and service delivery capacity, access public resources and engage their regional communities in the grassroots social justice movement. www.lgbtcenters.org