Each week LGBT HealthLink, a Program of CenterLink brings you a round-up of some of the biggest LGBTQ wellness stories from the past week.
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Challenges for LGBT in STEM
A new study found that LGBT folks faced systemic disadvantages in STEM fields, including facing career limitations and harassment from peers, and reported more frequent health difficulties than their peers. Limited opportunities in STEM jobs also means that LGBT people might be less able to address health disparities the community faces.
POZ reported that the health insurance marketplace put in place by the Affordable Care Act will reopen for a special session starting February 15th, to help those who may have lost their insurance during the pandemic – a problem for many, especially given unemployment. Research has found that the ACA significantly increased access to care for LGBT individuals.
Aetna Expands Gender-affirming Coverage
The New York Times reported that Aetna, one of the country’s largest insurers, has agreed to cover breast augmentation for transgender women. The service will now be deemed medically necessary to treat gender dysphoria, rather than “cosmetic,” a designation that previously meant it wasn’t covered (and that is still used by most insurers). Patients will need to be on hormone therapy for a year and have a mental health referral to qualify.
Impact of Gender-neutral HPV Policies
Researchers studied potential impacts of different HPV vaccination policies, using data from Spain. They found that programs targeting only women (as has traditionally been the case) help protect heterosexual men but not queer men. Gender-neutral policies would, on the other hand, have a health benefit for queer men, who are at higher risk for HPV.
LGBT Activist Passes
NBC News reported on the passing of LGBT activist Carmen Vázquez, who began her work for the community in the 1970s in San Francisco, where she helped form community spaces and public health responses for LGBT people. Vázquez died from complications related to COVID-19.
Pushing for Progress in 2021
LGBT ActionLink published its 2021 advocacy priorities, which include passing the Equality Act, a bill that would protect LGBT folks from discrimination in settings like workplaces, healthcare providers, and education. They also include protecting the wellbeing of youth through actions such as banning conversion therapy and treating transgender students consistently with their gender identity.