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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Queer COVID-19 Resources are Here
CenterLink published a COVID-19 vaccine communication toolkit that provides resources for helping to reach and education LGBT folks on COVID-19 vaccination. The resources have been developed along with the School of Public Health at the University of Maryland, and were highlighted on an April 6th webinar. In addition to tailored resources like a customizable flier for those hosting vaccination clinics and conversation starters to get the ball rolling with clients, the initiative also includes a weekly newsletter to keep folks informed.
Delving into Vaccination Rates
Relatedly, the Journal of the American Medical Association examined COVID-19 vaccination among LGBT adults – and specifically, how things break down based on sexual orientation, race, ethnicity, and gender. While LGBT people on the whole are more likely to be vaccinated than are their peers, when looking at subpopulations, White gay men were most likely (with over 94% being at least partially vaccinated) while Black gay or lesbian women had the lowest rate (with less than 58% being vaccinated). The results suggest that more outreach is needed to certain groups – and especially Black sexual minority women – as public health officials and others in government try to get more of the country vaccinated.
Anti-LGBT Youth Bills Continue
Movement Advancement Project published a new report finding that 42 states considered bills that would make it harder for safe and inclusive education to be provided to LGBT youth over a two-year period, from 2020 to 2021. This means that more than 80% of U.S. youth live in states that have at least considered, if not enacted, such legislation. Additionally, a whopping 280 bills seeking to suppress support for LGBT youth or censor LGBT-inclusive content in schools have been introduced so far in 2022, which is more than the combined total from all of 2020 and 2021. They point to further research finding that the public debate around such bills negatively impacts LGBT youths’ mental health, even if the bill eventually fails to become law.
Impacts of Negative Legislation
On that note, Fast Company analyzed some of the negative impacts that this type of bill can have. They include prohibiting teachers from using LGBT-inclusive lessons, but also blocking students from sharing their own identities (or having that information reported to their parent if they do). Both of those components can hurt mental health; for example, the author points to research finding that learning about LGBT historical figures was associated with lower suicidality among youth, and many LGBT youth rely on school as a safe place to get critical support that they lack elsewhere.
New HIV Vaccine Trials Announced
NIH announced that it was beginning a Phase 1 clinical trial of three HIV vaccines that use mRNA in a way similar to that of multiple approved COVID-19 vaccines. Anthony Fauci expressed optimism that some of the scientific knowledge we have gained from fighting COVID-19 might translate into a vaccine for HIV, which remains an elusive goal more than 40 years after HIV was first reported in the US. (By contrast, companies developed COVID-19 vaccines in less than a year.) The study will begin with 108 adult participants, of whom one-third will get each of the three experimental vaccines. The trial is expected to be completed by summer of next year.
Seeking (or Avoiding) Care in South Korea
LGBT Health published a study on the experiences of sexual minority adults seeking healthcare in South Korea. The study found that, after controlling for other variables, LGB adults who had high expectations of facing rejection related to their identity while seeking care had 1.38 times higher prevalence of delaying or avoiding care compared to adults with lower expectations of rejection. The results demonstrate how even the fear of not being treated respectfully can impact LGBT health, as those who skip care are likely to not have problems found when they are easier to cure or treat.