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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Intersecting Pandemics Explored
GLAAD shared some of the similarities with respect to inequities in the HIV, COVID-19, and MPV pandemics. According to their recent report, LGBT people (especially those of color) have been hit hard by all of these conditions in part because of medical mistrust, underlying vulnerabilities regarding social determinants of health, and challenges in accessing appropriate prevention and care. The report also explores some of the shortcomings in the MPV vaccine rollout, which (like access to PrEP and other prevention for HIV, and vaccines for COVID-19) is critical to reduce cases; many individuals have had trouble accessing the vaccine and are also experiencing fear and anxiety in facing yet another public health crisis.
Intimate Partner Violence High for Several Groups
Researchers at Rutgers University shared a new study finding high levels of intimate partner violence among sexual and gender minority young people who were assigned male at birth. Among these 18 to 24 year olds, the subgroups most likely to experience such violence were bisexual individuals, transgender individuals, and lower-income people. Nearly half (47%) of all participants had experienced some form of intimate partner violence, with psychological being the most common.
Chest Reconstruction Remains Under-insured, Costly
JAMA Pediatrics published a study finding that gender-affirming chest reconstruction for youth increased from 100 surgeries in a national database in 2016 to 489 in 2019; about six in 10 had insurance coverage for the procedure, with the average total charge being nearly $30,000, statistics that remained stable over the study period. White youth comprised nearly four in five of those who were able to access the procedure, suggesting it may be harder to access for youth of color.
HIV and Gender-affirming Care
Pink News shared the World Health Organization’s report that reaffirms the importance of gender-affirming care as part of a broader approach to addressing HIV and STI disparities among transgender populations. The report examines the progression over the years in which it (and other public health entities) have increasingly acknowledged the importance of this type of care, as well as the relationship between transgender health inequities and structural barriers, including human rights issues. The report notes that universal healthcare must be inclusive and that countries should make appropriate policy changes to remove the barriers trans folks face in accessing care.
Menthol Cigarettes Preferred by Diverse Smokers
Researchers with Columbia University published a report finding that more than half of gay and lesbian smokers used menthol-flavored products. Menthol use has grown overall through the past decade, with about two in five smokers now using the flavor. This includes over 80% of Black smokers, as well as a disproportionate rate of Latinx smokers, making menthol cigarettes a potential obstacle in improving health equity. Countries like Canada and the United Kingdom have banned menthol flavoring, and the U.S. has begun to take action that could result in the same outcome, although it could be some time before such a regulation comes into effect.
Exploring Cancer Care for Trans Patients
Cancer Therapy Advisor reported on how to improve cancer prevention and care for transgender individuals. The article notes that evidence on cancer outcomes for transgender patients is limited, but includes that trans individuals may be diagnosed at more advance stages, less likely to get treated, and have worse survival rates. This is likely due to a mix of social determinants of health, and some factors that providers can directly counter, such as ensuring that transgender people do not face stigma or discrimination in healthcare and have providers who are knowledgeable about their identities and needs.
Intersex Awareness Day Observed
InterACT marked October 26 as Intersex Awareness Day, in recognition of athe first public demonstration for intersex individuals’ rights that took place on that day in 1996. Resources include a glossay of key terms related to intersex identities, list of actions people can take to support the intersex community, and a toolkit with graphics that can be shared online to educate others about intersex individuals.
Views of Trans Acceptance, from Oregon to Tennessee
Transgender Health published a study exploring the opinions of gender minorities in the states of Oregon, Michigan, Nebraska, and Tennessee, and found that Oregonians had the most positive perception of their state with respect to their trans or gender diverse identities. While Tennessee participants had the highest expectation of rejection based on their gender identity, many other variables (like pride, resilience, and mental health) did not vary by state. However, those who had a more negative view of their area were unsurprisingly more likely to have experienced discrimination and anxiety. The study also found that resilience did not seem to reduce the correlation between perceived local environment and mental health issues or pride in identity.
Youth Fairly Confident on Transitioning Care
Transgender Health also published research exploring the readiness of trans youth to move from pediatric to adult healthcare providers. The study included 29 youth, 26 parents, and 5 providers, and found that youth all reported being about as ready for this change regardless of their exact age, and also rated their own competence in several areas (like knowledge of hormone therapy side effects) better than did parents or providers. The topics in which the participants most reported that youth needed assistance was with scheduling appointments and maintaining health information records.
Youth Care Fight Continues in Arkansas
On the subject of care for youth, TIME reported on the trial over Arkansas’s ban on gender-affirming therapy for minors. The two week-long trial took place in a federal court in Arkansas was brought by four families and two doctors who say that the law violates the equal protection and free speech rights of the Constitution; the state argues that the law seeks to protect children, despite major medical associations all aligned to contest this argument in the case. Arkansas was the first state to pass such a law, but similar legislation has now been introduced in more than 20 state legislatures, meaning the case could have ripple effects across the country.
Challenges for Queer Folks in Medicine
Healio explored what it’s like for physicians who are part of the LGBT community through a blog post by a physcian who identifies as lesbian and is in a same-sex relationship. She discusses both the acceptance and challenges she faced as a resident and as a patient herself in the South in the late 1990s, and the reasons why LGBT people still struggle to receive quality care.