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Good And Not-So-Good Cancer News For Queers


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.

Fake tanFake Tan Could Save Lives

The Guardian reported that scientists are developing a new chemical substance that causes the release of darker skin pigments, perfectly mimicking a suntan. The process would help people prevent sunburns and thus lower risk for skin cancer. It’s especially good news for queer men, who have been shown to practice higher risk behaviors when it comes to skin safety.

Health Concerns for LGBT Older Adults

The National Council on Aging shared three top health concerns for LGBT older adults. One health issue is cancer, which was reported by about 1 in 5 LGBT older adults in one study, and where queer older adults face elevated risks. Mental health and cardiovascular diseases rounded out the three issues that should be of particular concern to queer folks as they age.

Everything You Wanted to Know About Cancer Best and Promising Practices Report final OCT-28.pdf

Researchers published a review of cancer in LGBT communities, including the higher risks that LGBT people face (related to things like smoking, sexual behaviors, and indoor tanning) as well as the subpar care they often receive. The authors noted that transgender patients have especially high barriers to accessing quality care in which doctors understand their cancer risks and needs.

Low HPV Vaccine Rates for Queer Men

A study found that less than 1 in 5 queer men aged 18-26 has been vaccinated for HPV, with only 17.2 percent reporting that they had done so in keeping with government recommendations. The study, covering 20 metropolitan areas, found that factors such as health insurance and having disclosed sexual orientation to a provider increased the likelihood of getting the vaccine.

Queer Folks and Waterpipe Use

Researchers found that queer individuals were more likely to smoke waterpipes than heterosexual individuals, with bisexual women showing the largest disparities in both current and lifetime use. Gay men and lesbian women were also more likely to use waterpipes in their lifetimes compared to heterosexual folks, showing that tobacco disparities go beyond cigarettes.

Medical Group Says Bathroom Bills Hurt

The Washington Blade reported that the American Medical Association has approved a resolution calling out transgender “bathroom bills” that reduce rights and protections for transgender folks using public facilities. The AMA said that these bills can hurt the physical and mental health of transgender people and undermine “safe access to basic human services.”

Syphilis Screening Rising but Low

Researchers found that syphilis screening among men who have sex with men increased from 38 percent to 49 percent between 2008 and 2014. However, that still meant that less than half of queer men had been screened. Troublingly, syphilis diagnoses were reported increasing among several subgroups, including queer Black men and those living with HIV.

Doctor’s Advice Key in HPV Vaccination

A study at three clinics in L.A. and Chicago found that only 13.7 percent of young queer men and transgender women had had at least one dose of HPV vaccine. They also found that those with at least a four-year college degree and those who were white were more likely to get the vaccine, and that a provider’s recommendation was the strongest predictor of getting vaccinated.

Texas Clinic Tackles HIV

The LA Times reported on a clinic in Austin that started offering affordable hormone treatment to transgender Texans and used its sudden popularity to promote PrEP, the HIV prevention drug. The HIV rate among trans individuals (particularly those of color) is much higher than in the general population, but uptake of PrEP has been slow, suggesting the need for more outreach.

SurveyLGBT Questions Return to Older Adult Survey

Rainbow Times reported that the Department of Health and Human Services will continue to ask older adults about their sexual orientation and gender identity in a major public health survey it conducts. It is a big reversal from their previous announcement that they would stop collecting this data, which was protested by advocates as a move that could mask LGBT disparities.

Knowledge, Anxiety, and Anal Cancer

Researchers in Australia found that queer men had limited knowledge about anal cancer and HPV, which can cause anal cancer. While abnormal test results for anal cancer generally caused anxiety among patients (particularly those who were not living with HIV), the study found that patients speaking with general practitioners about the results helped them understand and feel less anxious.

More Trans Resources Needed, Expert Says Dr. Laura Erickson-Schroth

The Body interviewed Dr. Laura Erickson-Schroth, a transgender health expert, about the dearth of resources on transgender health for both patients and professionals. Dr. Erickson-Schroth explained that many transgender resources do not say much on health, and materials are spread across the internet and can be hard to find, especially for people of low resources.

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