#Living ProudlyLiving Longer – LGBT Smoke Free in Pennsylvania

LGBT community centers in PA collaborate on  tobacco cessation campaign


by Adrian Shanker

Executive Director, Bradbury-Sullivan LGBT Community Center

LGBT HealthLink Community Advisory Council Co-chair


Tobacco use is among the greatest health challenges facing the LGBT community. According to the 2016 Southeastern Pennsylvania LGBT Health Needs Assessment, 34% of the LGBT community in the region consumes tobacco (compared to 18% of the general population.)

LGBT Smoke Free Ad.2.15.18_English

In response, the Southeastern Pennsylvania Tobacco Control Project, an initiative of Health Promotion Council, has partnered with three LGBT community centers in Pennsylvania to educate our community, change the social norms, reduce the pressure to smoke, promote smoke-free pride celebrations, and promote tobacco cessation for the LGBT community. The most recent example of collaboration was realized through a co-branded two-month ad campaign in Philadelphia Gay News (an LGBT news outlet that does not accept tobacco industry advertisements!) The ad, co-branded by three LGBT community centers, Bradbury-Sullivan LGBT Community Center in Allentown, LGBT Center of Central PA in Harrisburg, and William Way LGBT Community Center in Philadelphia, along with the Southeastern Tobacco Control Project, encourages smoke-free living (#LGBTSmokeFree) so our community can enjoy living proudly and living longer.


For us, it is critical that this message comes from LGBT community centers. Those who walk into our centers trust us to provide information about LGBT rights and LGBT health. This new campaign, #LivingProudlyLivingLonger is about ensuring that our community experiences a high-quality of health, which tobacco-free living can help us achieve!

Adrian Shanker (He/Him/His) has been an activist, organizer and an advocate for the LGBT community for more than a decade. He serves as Executive Director of Bradbury-Sullivan LGBT Community Center and previously served as President of Equality Pennsylvania where he led successful campaigns to advance non-discrimination and relationship recognition ordinances in municipalities across Pennsylvania.


This Week in #LGBTWellness: Pride Events To Just Say No!

Each week, LGBT HealthLink, a program of CenterLink, and researcher and blogger Corey Prachniak-Rincón bring you a round-up of some of the biggest LGBTQ wellness stories from the past seven days. 


When Pride Parades Go Up in Smoke

Researchers explored the targeting by tobacco companies of what should be a safe space: LGBT pride festivals. They found that only 8% of the 100 festivals studied had published a smoke-free policy, usually resulting from local bans on smoking. Also concerning was that 61% of the festivals that shared their sponsorships had received funding from alcohol companies.

Thousands at Risk for Conversion Therapy

The Williams Institute published a new report finding that 20,000 youth aged 13-17 today will receive harmful “conversion therapy” by the time they turn 18 if states do not move to protect them, and that another 57,000 will be similarly mistreated by religious figures. NBC covered the report and provided an update on the status of conversion therapy bans in states and Congress.

Anti-LGBTQ Homicides Are on the Rise

NCAVP reported that the number of anti-LGBTQ homicides in the U.S. nearly doubled between 2016 to 2017, jumping from 28 two years ago to 52 last year. The new number, they point out, means that an LGBTQ person was murdered an average of once per week throughout 2017. 71% of all victims were people of color, with transgender women of color especially at risk.

RainbowUSAdogtagsMilitary Docs Want LGB Training

Researchers found that nearly 4 in 5 military doctors want specific guidance from the Department of Defense on how to provide sexual health care for queer patients. While almost two-thirds of doctors said they were comfortable discussing same-sex relations, only 5% had asked patients about such activity, and less than one-third said they had been trained on it.

Better Family Support Means Better Trans Health

A study found that when transgender and gender-nonconforming youth reported their families as being better functioning (in terms of communication and overall satisfaction), they also had better health outcomes. For example, youth from these more supportive environments reported less self-harm and depressive symptoms, as well as higher levels of self-esteem and resiliency.

Doctors Don’t Always “Get” Queer Women

NewNowNext reported on the “clueless questions” that queer women tend to get from doctors, whom studies have shown are not always LGBT-competent. In addition to summing up some of the research on the subject, the author also shares her personal experience as a queer woman in college, as well as the experiences of other women who have had less-than-great encounters.

Bi Men at Risk for Prescription Misuse

Researchers found that in a study of queer young men in Chicago, bisexual men were more likely than gay men to misuse painkillers and depressants or tranquilizers; some racial differences were also found among queer men generally. Those who used other substances were more likely to have misused prescription drugs of one form or another.

Smoking Drop Excludes LGBT Folks

U.S. News reported on recent research showing that while the overall population has seen a significant decline in smoking, the rate remains high among the LGBT population. Groups like low-income people, those with mental illness, and some racial minority groups have also seen smaller-than-average drops in smoking rates, suggesting a need for targeted cessation efforts.

 Surprising News on Trans Health and Age TransHealth

Researchers found that even though transgender youth are growing up in a somewhat more open culture, a comparison of trans-feminine youth and trans-feminine folks aged 40-plus revealed that the older group had less internalized transnegativity and less psychological distress. The surprising results underscore the need to support trans youth even as we move towards equality.

Competent Services Needed for Queer Immigrants

Center for American Progress reported on the challenges and opportunities facing LGBT immigrants in the US, who number almost 1 million – among whom more than a quarter-million are undocumented. The report looks at programs in several cities in states available to help LGBT immigrants and explores the importance of culturally-competent services.

E-Cigs Can Be Deadly

The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine published a report on the health problems caused by e-cigarettes, with news sources reporting on the potential “risk of life-threatening conditions” like cancer and heart disease. While the report did not directly address LGBT folks, research has shown that both LGBT adults and youth face high disparities.

WCDObserving World Cancer Day

The Union for International Cancer Control marked World Cancer Day on February 4th, a somber reminder of the work still left to be done to improve public health, especially for disparately- and differently-impacted groups. This includes LGBT people, whose relationship to cancer is something in need of further study and attention.


This Week’s #LGBTWellness News – Tobacco Use Still Higher for Our Folx

Each week, LGBT HealthLink, a program of CenterLink, and researcher and blogger Corey Prachniak-Rincón bring you a round-up of some of the biggest LGBTQ wellness stories from the past seven days. 

Yes, LGB People Are Still Smoking CDCMMWRSmokingFactors

In a national study, the CDC found that LGB adults smoke at about a one-third higher rate than do other adults, at a rate of 20.5% for LGB folks versus 15.3% for their heterosexual peers. Uninsured people and those under psychological distress were also more likely to smoke. The study adds to troubling evidence about LGBT people and tobacco products beyond cigarettes.

Queer Folks Experiment More with Tobacco

Researchers found that queer women under 25 years old were more likely than their heterosexual peers to experiment with cigarettes, e-cigarettes, cigars, and more; queer men under 25 were more likely than their peers to experiment with cigarettes. The results (and tobacco’s addictive properties) may help to explain why LGB people have such high smoking disparities later in life.

What Students Learn About HIV

A study of high school students in Florida found that sexual minority males were less likely than their peers to report having learned about HIV at school, and were less than half as likely to have used a condom the last time they had sex. One silver lining: sexual minority males were 1.88 times more likely than their peers to report having been tested for HIV.

ConversionTherapyConversion Bans Hit Cities, States

News reports from all over the country gave updates on local and state bans on LGBT “conversion” therapy, which experts overwhelmingly say causes harm. Broward County, Florida (where HealthLink calls home) banned the practice earlier this month, and Washington state is now considering such a bill; New Hampshire, on the other hand, voted down a ban.

HPV in Men Living with HIV

A study of Italian men living with HIV found that anal HPV was much more prevalent than oral HPV, with 85.2% having HPV infection observed at the anal site and only 20.9% with infection at the oral cavity. Low CD4 count and a higher number of recent partners was associated with higher odds of having oral HPV infection.

Telehealth Transports Trans Health

Vice reported on the amazing potential of telemedicine to connect transgender patients with providers who are trans-friendly and -competent, something to which many transgender people do not have access. The article reports on clinics that are offering care (sometimes exclusively) by two-way video conferencing, helping folks in far-flung areas find trans-friendly care.

How Many Brits Are LGB?

A study found that an estimated 547,000 British men and 546,000 women aged 16-74 identified as being LGB, representing about 2.5% of the population. However, when looking at how many Brits have ever had same-sex sexual relations, those numbers jump way up to over 1.2 million men and 1.3 million women, showing the importance of how sexuality questions are posed in surveys.


Trans People Must Ask for Cancer Screenings Screening

Evening Standard reported on a new guide from the UK’s national health system on cancer screenings for transgender patients. While the UK has made progress on allowing transgender people to self-identify their gender, it faces some screening challenges, and has advised transgender people to self-advocate for screenings they need but are not automatically offered.

Why Docs Don’t Vaccinate Queer Men

In more UK news, a study found that general medical practitioners were less likely to offer HPV vaccines (which can prevent cancer) to queer men than were sexual healthcare professionals. General practitioners were also less confident in offering the vaccine to queer men and less likely to believe the evidence that queer men’s risk for HPV justifies them being routinely vaccinated.

Streaming School Fills Sex Ed Gaps

Healthline reported on a new online platform that offers sexual health education on a variety of topics, including many that are specific to LGBT health. O.school, as the site is known, has new classes being added every week, and seeks to fill gaps in many sexual health education curricula that are outdated or not inclusive of many who depend on them to learn safer sex practices.


Linking Discrimination and Health

Center for American Progress published a report on how experiencing discrimination causes LGBT people to avoid getting medical care in the future, which can lead to serious harm. Meanwhile, Movement Advancement Project published a detailed report examining the current state of public accommodations nondiscrimination laws across the U.S., and their importance.

Peer Relationships and Health

Researchers reviewed the available studies on sexual minority youth and how their relationships with others can have a positive or negative impact on their health. One notable protective factor was peer norms with respect to safer sex; for example, the perception that peers were using condoms or other safer sex practices was associated with young queer men doing so themselves.



#LGBTWellness News: Health Providers – Ask About Our Identities!

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

Patients Okay Being Asked LGBT Status LGBT Checkbox

Researchers called for better data collection on LGBT people receiving medical care to help fill gaps in our knowledge on health disparities and provide better care. The authors refute common provider concerns about patients being offended by being asked their sexual orientation or gender identity, pointing to myriad studies that have shown patients do not mind being asked.

Advancing Queer Visibility in Public Health

LGBT HealthLink reported on the annual meeting of the American Public Health Association in Atlanta, where the theme was “Climate Changes Health.” While the sessions on LGBT health disparities were very well attended, the article recommends increasing their visibility at this and other public health conferences, to combat the marginalization the community still faces.

Sexual Fluidity and Mental Health

Researchers found that fluidity of sexual orientation identity was associated with negative mental health outcomes in transgender men and cisgender women, and was associated with more problems that fluidity in sexual attractions. Additionally, transgender men were more likely than cisgender people to experience such fluidity in sexual orientation identity, putting them at risk.

Birth Certificate Changes Prove Popular

Oregon Public Broadcasting reported that transgender people in Oregon are already using a law that took effect on January 2nd that makes it easier to change one’s gender marker on their birth certificate. A transgender woman who updated her certificate noted the need to have it match her true gender to be able to access insurance, gain employment, and avoid discrimination.


Skyping Your Way to Safer Sex

A Seattle-based study tested using telehealth (such as meeting a physician by videoconference) to administer PrEP, the HIV prevention treatment, and found such a system to be a feasible and promising means of increasing uptake of PrEP in hard-to-reach communities. Researchers also found that more work was needed to ensure patients are not lost during follow-up.

State Officials: LGBT Folks a Priority Population

The Association of State and Territorial Health Officials released an infographic on how states should be tackling tobacco-related disparities. One of their recommendations: identifying LGBT people (along with people of color and others) as priority populations. The infographic shows the need to tailor interventions and integrate them with services accessible by those populations.

How Harassment Impacts Health

Researchers found that LGBT students in California were more likely to smoke, “vape,” and drink than were their non-LGBT peers; moreover, gender- or sexuality-based harassment was associated with higher odds of using these substances. The results suggest that reducing LGBT-related harassment in schools could help reduce smoking and drinking disparities.

Palm Springs City CPalm Springs Welcomes All-LGBT Council

The Guardian reported on the country’s first all-LGBT government, as the city of Palm Springs seats its new Council in which all members identify as members of the LGBT community. The new councilmembers said that their identities were not even an issue in the queer-friendly city; instead, they focused their campaigns on key topics like homelessness and policing.

Chronic Disease and Sexual Orientation

A study examined chronic disease disparities among sexual minorities and found that how sexual orientation was measured (like by behavior versus how one self-identifies) was an important factor in making sure all the disparities were discovered. They found disparities in areas like asthma, arthritis, and chronic bronchitis among certain subgroups of queer men and women.

Gaps Found in Homelessness Research

A study reviewed research on homelessness among LGBT adults and found that many cities that perform “counts” of the number of people experiencing homelessness do not ask about sexual orientation (much less gender identity); surveys may also undercount LGBT people who want to remain hidden from services and services, out of fear of discrimination. The study also explores the causes and potential solutions to LGBT homelessness disparities.

Exploring Queer, Trans, and Latinx IdentitiesTransLatinx

Wear Your Voice published an essay on “what it means to be a queer and trans person in a Latinx family,” such as the psychological toll that coming out can entail and the risk queer youth face of ending up homeless. The author shares suggestions for what individuals and families can do to make for more welcoming and safe environments for LGBT kids.

Queer Films Tackle Big Issues

The Advocate released its list of the top 10 LGBT films of 2017. They took on big issues beyond just the sexuality and gender identity of their characters, such as the formation of AIDS activism abroad, dealing with the loss of a partner, and facing a cancer diagnosis in the family.


This Week in #LGBTWellness News – an Indian Prince

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

Prince Singh

Gay Prince to Open LGBT Center

Gay Star News reported that Prince Manvendra of India, who came out as gay in 2006 and faced significant backlash as a result, is now seeking to open an LGBT center on his family’s royal grounds. The center will feature support groups, a music therapy room, a healthcare clinic, and more, as well as seek to bring visibility to a community that still faces stigma.

New Tools to Stop Smoking

SF Stop Smoking launched a study aiming to help people quit smoking with Spanish-language and English-language resources, as well as a great online guide. Participants will comprise a study that hopes to teach researchers more about tobacco cessation. LGBT people are especially in need of such novel interventions, given that they smokeabout 50% more than others.

Understanding Trans Men and HIV

Researchers found that 11% of transgender people receiving HIV-related care are trans men, a small but sizable number given that they are often ignored in HIV prevention and care efforts. 47% of these men live in poverty, 23% have depression, and only 60% had sustained viral suppression for the past year, suggesting the population has complex needs and is underserved.

Queer Women of All Races Face Disparities DiverseWomen

Researchers examined data from 14 states and found persistent health disparities for queer women of all races – for example, queer Asian and Pacific Islander women had four times the odds of smoking compared to their heterosexual peers. Results for men were more mixed, with queer men sometimes having better health indicators than their heterosexual counterparts.

HPV, Sexuality, and Smoking

A study of men living with HIV found that 95% of men who have sex with men had anal HPV compared to 59% of other men; queer men were also more likely to have high-risk HPV types and to have abnormal anal cytology. Smoking also proved to be a risk factor, with researchers thus recommending that smoking cessation be encouraged for people living with HIV.

Objections Could Hurt Queer Health

The Fenway Institute released a report explaining how policies that allow companies to exercise “religious objection” to following various laws, including those requiring healthcare coverage, could negatively impact LGBT health. The report examines both state and federal law, and calls on the federal government to protect against discriminatory healthcare practices.

The Deadly Disparity Facing Queer Teens

Researchers found that approximately 25% of queer adolescents had attempted suicide in the past year, nearly four times the rate for heterosexual teens; even more queer teenagers, 4 in 10, had seriously considered suicide during that timeframe. The troubling findings have garnered press coverage, and researchers say policy makers, clinicians, and more should respond to the crisis now.

Exploring the Needs of LGBT Older Adults

LGBT Health published a special edition on older adults, who (as noted in the issue’s opening editorial) face disparities compared to their peers but also show high levels of resilience. One article found that while there were some troubling health indicators for older sexual minority adults, they were more likely than their peers to self-report excellent or very good health.

TransPatientPhysician Calls for Trans Solidarity

Huffington Post published an op-ed from a physician at the New York City Health Department, explaining why she stands in solidarity with transgender people. The author notes the widespread disparities that trans people (especially those of color) encounter, and lists several key steps that health professionals can take to be better allies. Sounds like a great New Year’s resolution to us!

CDC Releases Fact Sheet on Viral Suppression

The CDC released a new fact sheet on antiretroviral therapy (ART) and its role in viral suppression, a topic of interest as studies show that those with suppressed viral loads are very unlikely to retransmit the virus. The fact sheet notes that as of 2014, 58% of people living with HIV were virally suppressed, leaving about 4 in 10 needing more support in reaching that goal.

HPV and Queer Black Men

A study of queer men in Texas found that three out of four had at least one high-risk type of HPV, which can cause cancer, and that those who were living with HIV were at increased risk. Researchers recommended tailored interventions for Black queer men (who comprised most of the study) given their risk for HPV and lower likelihood of completing the vaccine series.

The Health of LGBT Orgs

Movement Advancement Project issued its annual report on the state of leading LGBT organizations. While sexual orientation diversity was strong, people of color were not proportionately represented in senior staff and board roles. Most organizations were advocacy-focused, with those centered on research and education comprising the smallest group.

HL Mem

Keep in touch with LGBT HealthLink by joining our FREE membership. Have access to our library of tools and resources, all free. Join our members-only online networking groups, exclusive webinars just for members, and keep up to date with our Weekly #LGBTWellness Roundup. It’s quick and easy to join, and it’s all free!


Are We Still “Hiding the Gay Away”? A Place at the Table for LGBT Health


By: Kristen Emory, PhD, San Diego State University                            Member of LGBT HealthLink’s Community Advisory Council 


I had an amazing time attending the 2017 American Public Health Association (APHA) IMG_20171109_194129_763annual meeting in Atlanta Georgia, with two of my favorite LGBT HealthLink, a Program of CenterLink staff members Dr. Washington and Ana Machado. This year’s theme was “Creating the Healthiest Nation: Climate Changes Health”.  As I reflect on the meeting’s theme, I am reminded of the importance of health equity and visibility. Climate is more than just our physical environment. We, each of us, exist within a complex social climate that may contribute positively or negatively to our physical, mental and social health.

The good news is there was an amazing turnout for each of the LGBT health sections I attended! So much so, in fact, that it was largely standing room only for the vast majority.  The less than great news is that each of these sessions were hidden away, down a long, lonely alleyway at the very end of the conference, in such a small room we could not all fit in! As I was waiting outside in the hallway during one particularly well-attended session, trying to catch a few words here and there, there was a general mood of unrest. As one conference goer standing next to me said “Hiding the gay away” in reference to the odd, small and hidden room we were all desperately trying to enter. And in fact: It. Felt. Like. It.

roomPlease do not get me wrong, I do not believe APHA necessarily intended to hide away these LGBT Health Disparities sessions…but APHA did not really highlight our sessions either, nor make these sessions easy to get into. In the current climate of political unrest and heightened visibility of overt discrimination against various SOGI and racial or ethnic minority groups, it is increasingly essential that we do not further marginalize the marginalized. That we do not hide our populations or our issues away in some dark corner, not to be seen or acknowledged by the general public. We, in public health and other disciplines advocating for the visibility and rights of underserved populations, must stand up and have all of our voices heard. As advocates, academics and human beings; we should all be asking ourselves how we use our voices to ensure that we are not “hiding the gay away”.

There are some potentially powerful next steps that we might take to make sure that future generations do not feel further marginalized, whether that be in academia, public health, or the mass media. In the future, APHA and other conferences can help set the stage for inclusion of health disparities topics relevant to LGBT and other underserved populations by having our LGBT sessions share the same spaces that others health topics freely take up (not hidden in some far away corner). As my dear friend Dr. Francisco Buchting indicated in regards to the MPOWERED report “If we are not counted, we do not exist.” Being included sends a message that we matter, that we are a part of the bigger picture of public health and that, our needs should be both addressed and met. This is particularly important because despite the growing evidence that LGBT populations appear to be at increased risk for a wide variety of health concerns, our work is still being marginalized and pushed aside. Until there is acknowledgement of these issues, this marginalization will likely continue to occur, further widening the gap. We can all take steps by speaking out when we see this happening. There is no better time than the present to address these issues head on, so that future generations do not have to face the same challenges and do not have to fight as hard to have a place at the table.
Related: Keep an eye out for our upcoming White Paper on SOGI data collection methodology to help address health disparities concerns in LGBT data collection!


#LGBTWellness: Reducing Barriers To Better LGBTQ Healthcare

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

RainbowMedicalTeaching Professionals About Health Equity

Researchers explored how to integrate principles of LGBT health into undergraduate medical education. Among their suggestions: delve into the complexities involved in coming out and forming an identity related to sexual orientation and gender identity, and incorporate discussions on intersectionality (such as race and socioeconomic status) whenever possible.

Another Reason to Protect LGBT Kids

A study explored the relationship between negative childhood experiences (like bullying and abuse) and psychological distress among adults – all problems for which queer men are at higher risk than other men. They found that there was, in fact, a potential relationship, suggesting that improving the wellbeing of queer kids could translate all the way through adulthood.

Insurer Continues Blocking PrEP Access

NewNowNext reported that UnitedHealthcare has thrown up another barrier to folks accessing PrEP, the HIV prevention treatment that has been proven effective. Previously its doctors were denying access for those engaging in “homosexual behavior;” now they are refusing to allow coupon cards, which many rely on for the pricey med, to count towards one’s deductible.

Nondiscrimination Laws Critical for Health

Researchers found that a friendlier climate for LGB people is associated with better self-rated health, but only when that friendly environment is coupled with nondiscrimination laws, and only for gay and lesbian (versus bisexual) people. The results suggest that nondiscrimination laws are key to health, and that even more work is needed to support bisexual individuals.

New Resources on HIV Testing CDC HIV

The CDC launched new resources, including a factsheet and infographic, on the importance of getting tested for HIV. Among the facts: 29% of queer men with “high risk” for HIV were not tested in the past year. The materials also highlight the fact that many people who should have gotten tested but did not were not offered an HIV test when they saw their doctor.

When Finding Therapy Isn’t Easy

Vice reported on the challenges that queer and transgender people of color can encounter in finding a therapist who is knowledgeable about the intersectional issues these populations face. The article provides resources, but also explores people’s stories, and provides helpful tips from queer and trans people of color who have successfully navigated mental healthcare.

Gay Apparel

LGBT HealthLink wishes you all a healthy and happy holiday season! Learn more about us and how you can be a part of reducing LGBT health disparities. 


Researchers Find Camping Is Really Good For LGBTQ Youth!

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

When Queer Campers Are Happy Campers Camp

Researchers evaluated a camp for LGBT youth aged 12-20 and found that campers on average had an increase in identity affirmation and hope by the end of their adventure; they also showed lower symptoms of depression. The researchers note that experiences such as this may help to combat the lower health outcomes and higher rates of depression that queer youth tend to face.

Queer People Face Violence, Fear Getting Help

51% of LGBT people said they or a person close to them have experienced violence related to their identity in a major new study from NPR, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and Harvard University. Many also reported harassment, slurs, and threats, but due to fear of discrimination, 18% avoided necessary healthcare and 16% did not call the police when in need.

Centers Less Prepared for Trans Patients

The Fenway Institute assessed the readiness to serve LGBT patients of 17 health centers that are specially designated to serve vulnerable populations. Among the findings were that clinical staff felt less sure that they could meet the needs of transgender patients (64% agreeing) than LGB patients (78% agreeing), with lack of experience cited as the most top reason for discomfort.

STDCDC Program Launches STD Curriculum

The CDC announced the launch of the National STD Curriculum, giving professionals free education credits and providing handy reference guides that include information on disparities that LGBT people face. For example, the HPV guide notes the high rate of HPV-related anal cancer among queer men, while the syphilis guide reports that queer men accounted for 58% of cases last year.

Isolation Among LGBT Older Adults

Movement Advancement Project released an infographic exploring how social isolation can impact the lives of LGBT older adults, who are twice as likely to live alone than are others. MAP notes that many older adults will be dependent on their families of choice and broader communities for support during this holiday season, and also links readers to resources.

Including Trans Folks in HIV Research

Researchers published an article explaining that while transgender and gender-nonconforming people are at elevated risk for HIV, they are often not given due consideration or properly considered as unique populations in HIV-related studies. The paper shares how researchers can more equitably execute studies and understand the issues of special importance to this group.https___www.tobaccofreekids.org_assets_images_content_CorrectiveStatement_Quote_1

Finally! Some Tobacco Ads We Like

ABC News reported that after a decade of delays, tobacco companies are finally being forced to advertise on TV that – yes – their products kill people. The industry was ordered to run such ads 11 years ago, but until now they have used legal maneuvers to avoid compliance. Hopefully LGBT people will be watching, as they smoke at about a 50% higher rate than do others.

Half of Trans Youth Skip Care

A study of transgender youth in Canada found that 47.2% of those aged 19-25 had skipped necessary healthcare for reasons such as costs, negative past experiences with providers, and a sense that providers were not competent on transgender issues. Being comfortable with one’s provider and having providers know one’s transgender status tended to correlate with better health.

Refusal of Service Harms Queer Community Duff

The Center for American Progress published a report on how being refused service because of one’s sexual orientation or gender identity can negatively impact health. This includes the immediate emotional harm that comes with facing stigma and rejection, and the long-term harm that results from dealing with stress and discrimination over the course of a lifetime.

HIV Care After Incarceration

The Lancet published an article on how incarcerated persons who are living with HIV are often not connected to care following release, facing risk of viral rebound. This has negative health consequences for the individual and increases their chances of transmitting the virus and has a disparate impact on African American men due to their higher rate of incarceration.

GaymingStudy Explores Gaymers’ Experiences

A study explored the experiences of Black lesbian women who play Xbox online (and are thus part of what is affectionately known as the “gaymer” community). Among other things, the study looks at how these women navigate a space that can sometimes be heterosexist and homophobic, but at the same time can provide a community space for people who might otherwise be isolated.

New Effort to Aid Cessation

The Washington Post reported that the FDA will form a new steering committee to evaluate and improve the way the agency handles tobacco cessation treatments. The FDA says it wants to do more to encourage development of products that will help people quit smoking. Hopefully, the changes will help LGBT people, who are more likelyto smoke but may be less likely to get help.


3 Days in Alaska – A Whole Lot of Warm

Anchorage Mon AM

For three days in October, LGBT HealthLink’s Community Advisory Council (CAC) held our annual in-person meeting in Anchorage, Alaska.  This meet up was the perfect opportunity for these hard-working, volunteer innovators to learn more about LGBT HealthLink, LGBT health disparities, and the incredible work being done in Alaska and other states to reduce those disparities.

The CAC is an active, multi-sector committee of LGBT HealthLink, a program of IMG_4787 CenterLink, with demonstrated success implementing culturally appropriate LGBT policy, system and environmental change strategies. The CAC members promote the use of science-based, culturally competent strategies for addressing tobacco-related and cancer health disparities experienced by the LGBT community.  LGBT HealthLink’s CAC serves as one method of communication and feedback between LGBT HealthLink and LGBT communities nationally.  The CAC members provide LGBT HealthLink the opportunity to hear directly from stakeholders on the impact of the program’s work in addressing LGBT health disparities.

20171024_095841_1508867994544Our diverse CAC members live in different geographic locations around the country and getting together at least once a year for a face-to-face interaction is a bonus.  At the meeting, LGBT HealthLink’s Program Director, Dr. Regina R. Washington, discussed LGBT HealthLink’s program strategies, critical activities, and key workplan deliverables for 2017-2018.  Also, CAC initiated the development of the framework for LGBT HealthLink’s E-Summit anticipated in May 2018 through the facilitation of CAC’s co-chairs, Shor Salkas and Adrian Shanker. We also had the opportunity to talk with key program leads from the Alaska Department of Health in tobacco and cancer programs. Additional guest speakers included Dr. Ray Troche who spoke of BRFSS data collection for lesbian, bi-sexual, and gay individuals and tobacco use in Alaska, and Dr. Gary Ferguson, the CEO of RurAL CAP, who spoke on the intersectionality of LGBT and Alaska Native health.

Much was accomplished during the long Alaska days and nights. Workgroups were imagejpeg_zformed to focus on advancing LGBT health equity in the areas of tobacco use and cancer prevention and control.  More topics identified and adopted into the workplan included increasing sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI) data collection at the national, state, and local levels, and addressing LGBT rural and people of color health issues.  Time was carved out to IMG_4799meet with Identity Alaska, a community-based organization advancing Alaska’s LGBT community through advocacy, education and connectivity.  During some discussions, it was agreed that healthcare systems have an opportunity to collaborate with LGBT community centers to advance efforts to improve LGBT health.


One of the major goals of the meeting was to strategize and begin planning our annual E-Summit.  The E-Summit offers many webinars and panel discussions over a period of 3 days. E-Summit features presenters who work in the areas of public health, community-based organizations, and health care systems to share evidence-based approaches to addressing LGBT health disparities, advances and insights into best and promising practices for LGBT health, patient navigation, cancer screening, the tobacco quitline, and much, much more. Stay in touch with LGBT HealthLink to get more information on dates and session topics, www.lgbthealthlink.org.

Of course, the best part of this annual CAC meeting is the personal bonds formed and shared experiences. Below are a few reflections from this year’s meeting some of our members posted on Facebook.


Adrian Shanker

As I’m sitting in the airport awaiting my midnight flight home from Anchorage, I’m reflecting on the power and magic of the last week. My reason for being here was to co-chair the LGBT Healthlink Annual in-person Meeting – Our meetings with leaders at Alaska Department of Health and Identity (LGBT Center in Anchorage), as well as hearing from a Alaska Native health leader about intersectional health challenges for LGBT, Alaska Native, and rural communities, gave power to our strategic work to plan for LGBT Healthlink’s final CDC grant year. I feel grateful to have had the opportunity to A and Aspend the rest of the week exploring interior Alaska with friend and colleague, Anthony. It’s hard to quantify the most magical moments: looking up to see a bald eagle perched on top of a tree, witnessing Alaska’s fierce sunrises, relaxing in the Chena hot springs, learning about the cultural significance of dog mushing and meeting some retired Iditerod racing dogs, touring a geothermal power plant, staying up half the night to see Lightsthe Aurora, experiencing Alaskan art and history at the Museum of the North, visiting with moose, elk, and reindeer… This was truly an unforgettable week. It was also a week with its challenges. I drove more than 1200 miles this week. Vegetarian food wasn’t easy here, and Alaska’s hunting/trapping culture (complete with dead animals on display all.over.the.place.) caused me to consider my discomfort with a lens of cultural humility. Driving through Snowy treesDenali State Park in a blizzard was dangerous even in my rented Durango. And I made a decision to not wear my Kipah in interior Alaska because I didn’t feel comfortable wearing it with the socio-political milieu in the region. As I return to Pennsylvania, I am feeling a gentle mix of gratitude, exhaustion, and adrenaline. Alaska, it’s been real and I’ll be back!

Anthony and dog

Anthony Howard Crisci

Full day of discussing best practices for community based organizations when working with state health departments to improve the health of the LGBT community! #lgbthealthlink #tobaccofreequeers

imagejpeg_4 (1)

Earl Nupsius Benjamin-Robinson

Over the past few days I have had the distinct pleasure of convening with trans, gender-fluid, two-spirit, same-gender loving, bisexual, lesbian, gay, cis gender persons that are community leaders, public health experts, program directors, marketing experts, practitioners, professors, and research scientists. We convened to discuss, brainstorm, and develop equitable strategies to combat cancer and tobacco disparities effecting sexual and gender minorities. My take-aways from the HealthLink advisory board meeting are 1) I am my sisters and brothers’ keeper, 2) What I’ve overcome will not be undone, and 3) I AM!

Gil Kristen Shor Larry

Kristen Emory

Alaska 💗

We were so lucky to have gotten the opportunity to share this day together. Thank you, Larry, Kairaiuak Apacuar for everything! Today ended in the most wonderful way possible, and we will never forget it.


Shor A Salkas

Feeling so grateful to Kairaiuak Apacuar for helping LGBT HealthLink host an incredible Community Advisory Council meeting and time for community building in Alaska this week. There is nothing more special than a person inviting you to their home and whole-heartedly sharing their culture with you. We learned so much about tobacco and cancer work in Alaska, and about the intersectionality of indigenous and native health and LGBTQ health.

This is how we build community, understanding, and lay strong foundations for health equity and social justice in our intersectional work.

thank you thank you thank you to a beautiful community

#LGBThealth #NativeHealth #intersections #LGBTHealthLink #socialjustice#healthjustice #communityishealing


Keep in touch with LGBT HealthLink by joining our FREE membership. Have access to our library of tools and resources, all free. Join our members-only online networking groups, exclusive webinars just for members, and keep up to date with our Weekly #LGBTWellness Roundup. It’s quick and easy to join, and it’s all free!


Focus On #MyRightToHealth in This Week’s #LGBTWellness

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

Preparing for World AIDS Day

UNAIDS launched a new campaign on the human right to health ahead of World AIDS Day on December 1. The campaign focuses on connecting the right to “the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health,” which has been part of international law for 50 years, to the needs of people living with HIV today. The campaign includes action items for readers to get involved.

New Study Confirms Queer Smoking Disparity Smoking Infographic-rev03-2016-printer

A major study found that LGB adults smoked at a 38.8% higher rate than heterosexuals adults, with 27.8% – more than one in four – reporting that they are current smokers, compared to 20.1% of heterosexual adults. The authors believe that the stigma and discrimination faced by queer adults, plus intentional targeting by the tobacco industry, help explain these high rates.

Marking Transgender Awareness Month

Fenway Health marked Transgender Awareness Month with an infographic showcasing sobering facts about trans health. It notes that one in three transgender people have delayed needed care out of fear of mistreatment and that one in five transgender people has been outright denied care by a healthcare provider. The graphic also explores topics like economic disparities and violence.

Prostate Cancer and Gay Men

U.S. News published an article exploring how prostate cancer affects gay men, a disease that experts and patients say can present different challenges to queer people even though the diagnosis itself is the same. The article also notes that cancer surveys often omit asking sexual orientation and that there is a dearth of resources specifically for queer cancer survivors.

HIV RiskLinks Between Financial Status and HIV Risk

A study examined the relationship between facing financial hardship and engaging in higher-risk sexual practices among queer men. It found that high levels of sexual hardship were associated with 1.28 times the risk of engaging in condomless intercourse and 2.36 times the risk of engaging in transactional sex, both of which are risk factors for contracting HIV.

Barriers to Gender-Affirming Care

Researchers surveyed 364 transgender adults in Massachusetts and found that 23.6% were unable to access gender-affirming care within the past year. Factors associated with having difficulty included having lower income and education levels, being younger, and having private insurance (suggesting state insurers like Medicaid were better than the private market).

Huge Cancer Disparity Linked to HIV

Researchers studied the cases of almost half a million people living with HIV in the U.S., and found that their anal cancer incidence rate was much higher than that of the general population. Queer men had even higher rates than others living with HIV, and those who had been diagnosed with AIDS rather than only HIV had a fourfold increase in anal cancer incidence.

Remembering Victims of Violence

NBC News reported on events happening around the world to commemorate Transgender Day of Remembrance on November 20. The founder of the occasion – which began after violence in Boston in 1999 – stressed the ongoing importance of naming violence against transgender people, which remains on the rise and disproportionately affects transgender women of color.

Journal Explores Queer Families

The Journal of Homosexuality published a special issue on LGBT families, noting in its introduction the need for “a useful framework” to explore topics like parenting and family units in the community. Articles include an examination of adult children of same-sex male parents, and a study on how microaggressions often question the validity of queer families.

Hep A Outbreak Grows in California  Hep A

The Los Angeles Times reported on a disturbing outbreak of Hepatitis A than began in San Diego, mostly among that city’s homeless population, and has now spread to many queer men in Los Angeles. Queer men are generally at higher risk for Hepatitis A (and homelessness), and with 14 cases already reported outside of Southern California, the outbreak could yet spread.

Impact of Heterosexism on People of Color

A study examined the role of socioeconomic status in how heterosexism impacted queer people of color. Interestingly, the results suggested that those with higher socioeconomic statuses were more likely to have a negative mental health impact from heterosexism, suggesting they may need assistance in dealing with discrimination’s impact on their mental health.

GASO 2017

The Smokeout Turns 40 

The National Behavioral Health Network reported on the 40th anniversary of the Great American Smokeout, and highlighted the ways in which smoking disproportionately impacts people with mental illnesses and substance use issues – both of which disproportionately impact LGBT people. This may help to explain why LGBT folks smokeat about a 50% higher rate than others.