Uncategorized

Apply by June 1st to Join the LGBT HealthLink Steering Committee!

 

Corey Prachniak - head shot (smaller size)

by Corey Prachniak, Chair of LGBT HealthLink’s Steering Committee.

Corey is an attorney working at the intersection of gender and health, and is currently a Zuckerman Fellow at Harvard University. Visit Corey’s website at cprachniak.com

 

As Chair of the LGBT HealthLink Steering Committee, I’m pleased to announce that we are accepting applications for Steering Committee membership until Wednesday, June 1. Fresh off our annual meeting this past weekend in sunny Fort Lauderdale, we have a busy and exciting year ahead of us, and we’re excited to welcome five new members to our team as part of our yearly recruitment.

The Steering Committee supports the work of LGBT HealthLink, a CDC-funded organization aimed at eliminating LGBT health disparities. We advise on and promote HealthLink’s initiatives, which include work in tobacco, cancer, wellness, and other fields of LGBT health, and are consulted on major organizational decisions. We meet monthly by conference call and yearly in person (which, we promise, is lots of fun!).  

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LGBT HealthLink’s Steering Committee annual meeting this past weekend. Smiles in paradise!

We have five positions opening up on the Steering Committee, which are open to people of all ages (including youth), professional backgrounds, geographic locations, and identities. Experience with LGBT health policy, research, activism, or care should be highlighted in your application. In particular, we are seeking:

  • At least one Cancer Expert
  • At least one LGBT Community Center Representative
  • Up to three General Members

Steering Committee members must be willing to:

  • Attend at least 9 out of 12 conference calls per year (usually occurring at 4pm EST on a weekday)
  • Travel once per year for an expenses-paid, in-person meeting (March 20-21, 2017; 2018 TBD)
  • Actively participate in at least one sub-committee
  • Serve as a public representative of LGBT HealthLink
  • Participate in HealthLink membership recruitment
  • Contribute to the HealthLink blog

Appointments to the Committee will run from July 2016 through June 2018, with the option of a two-year extension.

To apply, please fill out our application by June 1, 2016.  Applicants will be notified by July 1. If you wish to use a Word document application instead of the above form, or have any questions, please email healthlink@lgbtcenters.org.

Steering Committee · Uncategorized

HealthLink Steering Committee Set to Meet in Fort Lauderdale

Corey Prachniak - head shot (smaller size)

 

 

by Corey Prachniak is the Chair of LGBT HealthLink’s Steering Committee.

Corey is an attorney working at the intersection of gender and health, and is currently a Zuckerman Fellow at Harvard University. Visit Corey’s website at cprachniak.com

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This weekend, LGBT HealthLink’s Steering Committee will convene in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, where HealthLink and our parent organization CenterLink are based. For some of our twelve-member body – which reaches geographically from Boston to St. Louis to Anchorage – it will be their first time meeting the entire group in person. Typically, the Steering Committee convenes by phone each month to work with HealthLink’s fabulous staff. The Committee includes activists, academics, and government and nonprofit leaders each with their own unique path towards joining the HealthLink family.

This weekend, we’re hoping to take stock as to the state of LGBT health and where HealthLink – and our committee in particular – should focus our firepower moving forward. As HealthLink’s mandate has expanded over the years from being completely tobacco-focused to looking at LGBT cancer disparities broadly to increasingly taking on holistic LGBT wellness, we’ve grown our network and our potential to advance health equity across the country.

Throughout the weekend, we’ll be posting updates on the meeting here, on Twitter, and on Facebook with the hashtag #HealthLink2016. We’d love to hear from you as to what you’d like to see HealthLink and the Steering Committee get involved in, what kind of resources or support you need, or how you’d like to help us in achieving our goal of ending LGBT health disparities. You may not be able to join us in person here in sunny Fort Lauderdale, but you can join in the conversation online and be a part of our work.

Cancer · Conferences · LGBT Policy · Presentations · Steering Committee · Summit · Tobacco Policy

HealthLink E-Summit: One Day Down, One to Go!

logoCorey Prachniak serves as Chair of LGBT HealthLink’s Steering Committee and is an attorney focused on health policy, as well as a current Zuckerman Fellow at Harvard University. Corey tweets @CPrachniak.

Wow.

When the LGBT HealthLink Steering Committee decided to host an online “E-Summit” to bring together people interested in LGBT health, we didn’t know if it would work… Mostly because we made the idea up! But we wanted our committee and staff to be able to interact with the community we serve, and since we couldn’t fly everyone to HealthLink’s sunny home in Florida, we thought we’d give it a try.

Yesterday, we had over a hundred registrants for a full afternoon of sessions, featuring many members of our Steering Committee, HealthLink’s staff, and even special guest Jessica Hyde from the Texas Comprehensive Cancer Control Program. Over the course of the afternoon, we engaged in discussions on LGBT rights in healthcare, the disproportionate burden of cancer in LGBT communities, and the way that LGBT-based disparities interplay with disparities based on other aspects of people’s identities.

And it’s not over yet! Join us today (Friday) at 4:00pm Eastern for a fabulous presentation on LGBT tobacco disparities by no fewer than four members of our stellar Steering Committee and HealthLink’s Policy Manager, Juan Carlos Vega. This session, “We’re a Movement, Not a Market!,” is open to the public and is going to be an amazing way to cap off Day 2 of our events. HealthLink started as a tobacco control group, and even as we’ve grown and diversified to take on an array of LGBT health disparities, fighting tobacco remains at the heart of our mission. I’m sure the passion for positive change in our community will come across loud and clear this afternoon.

So, a big thank you to all who joined us yesterday and who will join us today. And a particularly big thank you to Jenna Wintemberg, a member of our Steering Committee and the co-chair of this event, for her many hours of hard work in putting this together. (You can even hear from Jenna at today’s tobacco session and thank her yourself!)

Oh – and if the work we’re doing is your kinda thing, you may be interested to know that we’re preparing to launch a brand-new membership program in the near future. You can sign up to learn more here.

Cancer · Conferences · LGBT Policy · Presentations · Steering Committee · Summit · Tobacco Policy

Join Us for our LGBT Health E-Summit, October 15th and 16th

 

Corey Prachniak serves as Chair of LGBT HealthLink’s Steering Committee and is an attorney focused on health policy, as well as a current Zuckerman Fellow at Harvard University. Corey tweets @CPrachniak.


For the past few months, I have been working with our fabulous steering committee and staff to put together a two day virtual conference, or “E-Summit,” on LGBT health issues. I’m excited to invite you to join us this Thursday and Friday, the 15th and 16th of October. Once you have registered for the event, you’ll be able to jump onto the webinar during any of the sessions that interest you.

On Thursday 10/15, we will kick things off at 3:00pm Eastern Time with a session on LGBT rights in healthcare, followed by a session on LGBT cancer issues at 4:00pm Eastern and finally a session on intersectionality of identities and health disparities at 5:15pm Eastern. On Friday 10/16, we will finish up with a terrific session on tobacco use in LGBT communities at 4:00pm Eastern.

You can get all the details on these presentations by downloading the program, and you can register to participate here. All of these events are open to all.

By the way – if you like the work that HealthLink is doing, and want to be involved in events like this in the future, I have good news! We are in the process of launching a free membership program that will allow individuals interested in LGBT health to partner with us in exciting ways. You can sign up to learn more here.

I hope to “see” you this Thursday and Friday!

Steering Committee

Apply by June 5th to be on HealthLink’s Steering Committee

 

Corey Prachniak serves as Chair of LGBT HealthLink’s Steering Committee and is a healthcare and LGBT rights attorney.  Corey tweets @CPrachniak.

 

As Chair of LGBT HealthLink‘s Steering Committee, I am happy to announce that we are looking for two individuals to join our diverse and active group.  The Steering Committee supports HealthLink’s staff by advising on and promoting the organization’s initiatives, which include work in tobacco, cancer, and other fields of LGBT health.  The Committee is also consulted on major organizational decisions and meets regularly by phone and occasionally in person.  There are two spaces open on the Steering Committee:

  • We are seeking a youth representative between the ages of 18 and 24.  The youth representative will ideally be able to assist the rest of the Steering Committee and HealthLink’s staff on reaching other young adults, and on building connections with groups that serve this population.  The youth representative will be one of two such representatives on the Committee, and is a full member.
  • We are also seeking a Steering Committee member with experience in cancer issues.  Ideally, this person would be familiar with LGBT disparities in cancer as well as with the organizations doing work in this field.  As HealthLink expands more into cancer-based work, an ability and willingness to connect us into relevant networks and advise us on substantive issues is highly desirable.

Both individuals must be willing to make at least four out of six conference calls per year (usually occurring at 3:00 p.m. EST on a weekday); be willing to travel up to one time per year for an expenses-paid, in-person meeting; be willing to join at least one sub-committee with additional, infrequent conference calls; and be willing to publish at least one blog post per year on a topic of interest to you in the HealthLink blog.  Appointments to the Committee will run from July 2015 through June 2017, with the option of a two-year extension.

To apply, please fill out our application by Friday, June 5, 2015.  Applicants may be asked to participate in a phone or Skype interview, and final notifications will be sent by July 1, 2015.

Healthcare Bill of Rights · LGBT Policy

You Got Covered – Now Know Your Rights

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Corey Prachniak serves as Chair of LGBT HealthLink’s Steering Committee, and is an LGBT rights and healthcare attorney.  Corey tweets @LGBTadvocacy.

 

It’s hard to believe that it has been more than four months since LGBT HealthLink, in conjunction with Promo Found, launched the LGBT Healthcare Bill of Rights.  So far, this initiative has been endorsed by nearly 90 organizations ranging from major LGBT rights organizations like HRC and Lambda Legal to statewide organizations  and local community centers all across the country.  On Twitter, the #LGBTHBOR has been tweeted to almost 1.5 million followers.

HBORAlmost 12 million people just got healthcare coverage through the Affordable Care Act’s federal and state-based exchanges.  Millions more have joined Medicaid as a result of the Act.  At the same time, the spread of marriage equality and implementation of antidiscrimination laws means that more LGBT people in particular are getting access to coverage.

Whether you’re newly insured for the first time (in which case congrats!) or have had your same insurance for years, why not take a few minutes to learn more about your rights that relate to that coverage?  And your rights that relate to healthcare more broadly?

We hope that you never face discrimination in accessing care.  But if you do, the Healthcare Bill of Rights will connect you to resources so that you can report the discrimination.  We also have resources for finding healthcare providers who are LGBT-friendly so that if you don’t feel comfortable where you are now, you can switch.

And just in case you lose that data signal on your cell, you can download the Bill as a PDF or a printable wallet-sized card.  Pretty snazzy, huh?

~~~

¡Nuestro programa de tus derechos en cuanto a la asistencia médica se habla español!   Descarga aquí.

 

Healthcare Bill of Rights · LGBT Policy

Coming Out for Equal Rights in Healthcare

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Corey Prachniak serves as Chair of LGBT HealthLink’s Steering Committee, and is an LGBT rights and healthcare attorney.  Corey tweets @LGBTadvocacy.

 

 

A few weeks before my closest aunt came to visit me in college, I came out to her in the P.S. of an unrelated email.  The content of the confession was as timid as its placement: something like, “Just so you know, I’m pretty sure I’m gay.”  A few weeks later, her visit came and went with her never mentioning what I had said.

It was only nine months later that I learned my aunt had missed my P.S. entirely.  She had to learn about my coming out through the grapevine (i.e., my other aunts), and when she confronted me about it she seemed hurt. “Why didn’t you come out to me sooner?” she asked.  “I’m the only one in the family who knows what you’re going through.”

Before I could explain that I had, in fact, attempted to come out, I had to address the bombshell buried in her own message: she could understand what I was going through??  She was gay herself??

In truth, I had long-suspected that she might be part of “the family,” but I always figured that if she wanted me to know, she would tell me.  My aunt took the opposite approach, and presumed that if people really wanted to know the truth, they would figure it out themselves.

Last month, I helped launch the Healthcare Bill of Rights with LGBT HealthLink and PROMO.  Some have asked why LGBT people even need a document like this.  The answer, I think, is that many of us take the aforementioned approaches to coming out of the closet.  Either we’re P.S. Queer, and tack on our sexuality where it’s least likely to be seen, or we’re You’ll Know if You Want to Know Queer, and we wait for others to ask or figure it out themselves.

I think my aunt’s mentality to coming out was really beautiful, and showed true faith in the ability of people to come around and accept her – not just as a listener, but as an active participant in seeking out who she was.

But for the purposes of my work as a healthcare advocate, both her approach and my own were flawed.

The preamble to our Healthcare Bill of Rights begins, “Your personal life and relationships affect your health more than you realize, so your doctor and other providers need to know your story.”  If you don’t think that your sexuality and gender identity are relevant to your healthcare providers, just read about all the disparities our community faces.

The Bill continues by saying, “We should all feel safe talking about” our partners, sex lives, and genders.  Sure, this is easy for me to say from my perch in relatively-progressive DC, but this is an aspiration goal that the whole country is making progress on and one that is increasingly within reach – if we know to fight for it.

The main purpose of the Healthcare Bill of Rights is not to create a litigious army of courtroom-ready queer folks.  It is not designed to provide a full legal education on every issue.  Actually, as I see it, the law is really secondary here.

The point is that for these rights to even matter, providers have to know we’re LGBT or else we don’t get good care.  By spreading the word about people’s rights, we hope to make them feel comfortable coming out and demanding (and receiving) quality healthcare.

We can’t P.S. one of the most important parts of our identities to the people who make us healthy.  Nor can we hope they’ll figure it out themselves or take the hint and ask us.  It’s time for us to take control of our own health and reverse the tides against us.

Check out the Healthcare Bill of Rights, and see why over 80 organizations have signed on to say that we deserve equal rights in healthcare.

Tobacco Policy

New Study Looks at Smoking Cessation among People with HIV

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Corey Prachniak is an LGBT rights, HIV policy, and healthcare attorney. He serves on the Steering Committee of the Network for LGBT Health Equity and tweets @LGBTadvocacy.

 

 

 

What makes smoking cessation successful among people living with HIV?  That was the question posed at an event last week at the American Legacy Foundation in Washington, DC.

Dr. Donna Shelley explained that ending smoking among people living with HIV is especially important because “smoking increases the risk of HIV-related infections” and leads to “poorer adherence to HIV meds, higher viral load,” and other health problems.  NAM, an HIV/AIDS organization, notes that HIV-positive “smokers are approximately three times more likely than non-smokers to develop the AIDS-defining pneumonia PCP” and that “oral thrush, a common complaint in people with HIV, is also more common amongst smokers.”  Dr. Shelley’s study focused on testing cessation strategies among people with HIV in New York.

When it comes to quitting smoking, it could be seen as a positive or negative that people living with HIV are already likely to have complicated medical adherence needs.  On the one hand, adding smoking cessation interventions and medications adds to the burden that many people living with HIV already face.  But on the other hand, many people living with HIV have found success at incorporating medication regimens into their lives and are used to managing their care, either on their own or with the support of a medical adherence team.  For people who are doing well adhering to their HIV-related medications and treatments, they may well be able to incorporate tobacco cessation measures with a high level of adherence.

In fact, that is what Dr. Shelley’s preliminary data suggested.  “Adherence at baseline to HIV meds,” meaning how well people remembered to take their HIV medications at the start of the study, “was closely correlated to adherence to cessation medications” by the study’s sixth week, she said.

Dr. Shelley also noted that the people for the study were recruited from healthcare clinics, which often are in more regular contact with their patients than are other types of medical providers.  That’s because these settings tend to offer multiple, highly coordinated services.  So, for example, if a client comes in to see her therapist but has missed an appointment with her primary care doctor, the staff person checking her in can make sure she reschedules with her doctor or gets the prescription refill or referral that she might need.

The research tested three adherence regimens: smoking cessation medication alone; medication and adherence text messages; and medication, text messages, and adherence counseling phone calls.  Interestingly, the research found that the group with the best adherence were those who received the medication and text messages, but not the phone calls, which many people reported as being “too much.”  People also stressed that they liked texts with positive reinforcement – like “stay on track” or “look how much money you’ve saved this month” – versus messages that just reminded them to take their medication.

It’s unclear whether the results are unique to people living with HIV, or would have been the same for others, as well.  But it’s worth noting that people who are already managing HIV-related care preferred quick positive reinforcement on quitting smoking rather than lengthy counseling on taking their meds or daily messages telling them to take their pill.

It’s true that HIV is not just a problem for the LGBT community.  But given that 63% of new HIV infections in 2010 were among men who have sex with men, and that LGBT people smoke at a rate that is 68% higher than the population in general, the intersection of smoking and HIV is a critical topic for LGBT health advocates to keep in mind.

LGBT Policy · Puerto Rico

#SaludLGBTT Wrap-Up: Working Together as Advocates

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Corey Prachniak is an LGBT rights, HIV policy, and healthcare attorney. He serves on the Steering Committee of the Network for LGBT Health Equity and tweets @LGBTadvocacy.

This is a series of posts covering Corey’s work in Puerto Rico for the Salud LGBTT conference.

 

Corey captures the sun setting over the San Juan Bay – and a great summit.

Now that the hundreds of us who participated in the Salud LGBTT summit in Puerto Rico last weekend have had a chance to return home and recuperate (and, in my case, pour on the aloe vera), I wanted to write a quick wrap-up on my experiences there.

In addition to the two days we spent talking about topics ranging from trans health to e-cigs, many of us spent time networking, developing collaborations, and making lasting friendships. People came from all over the island and the continental U.S. not only to share their experiences but also – and more importantly – to learn from the experiences of others.

Chances are that those of you reading this blog, like the attendees of the conference, come from all different backgrounds and specialties. Some are students, activists, lawyers, healthcare providers, community health workers, and academics. Some are focused on tobacco control, others on LGBT rights, and still others on healthcare disparities generally. And we each have different intersectionalities with respect to our own orientations, gender identities, races, ethnicities, abilities, and social groups. In short, we each bring different things to the table, both personally and professionally.

Over the weekend, I had a realization that there is none among us who can “do it all” with respect to LGBT health. We can’t all prioritize everything or be experts on every topic. One prominent activist told me that she sometimes feels pressure to prioritize one sub-group within the LGBT community over another. But rather than despair at this truth, or just give in and pick favorites, she and I focused our discussion on how to create collaborations so that we’re all working together towards a common goal.  By recognizing and using the expertise of others, we can focus on doing novel work ourselves.

So that was my lesson from the Salud LGBTT summit: to not reinvent the wheel trying to change the world alone, but to join forces with others to keep our wheels moving forward together. That means creating more opportunities like this amazing summit to gather and not just speak, but also listen.

Congratulations to Juan Carlos Vega and the entire board of Salud LGBTT for a successful and inspiring weekend! I look forward to seeing the attendees – and hopefully many new faces – next year.

To read more coverage of the Salud LGBTT summit, click here.

LGBT Policy · Puerto Rico

#SaludLGBTT Summit: Spotlight on Trans Health

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Corey Prachniak is an LGBT rights, HIV policy, and healthcare attorney. He serves on the Steering Committee of the Network for LGBT Health Equity and tweets @LGBTadvocacy.

This is a series of posts covering Corey’s work in Puerto Rico for the Salud LGBTT conference.

 

A transgender health panel at the summit.

There is a human right to have competent health care that preserves the dignity of all people, said Ericka Florenciani, launching the Salud LGBTT summit’s panel on trans healthcare. While trans issues were woven throughout the summit, this panel was one of many efforts to ensure that the issue of trans health would be front and center – a necessity given the difficulty the trans communities face getting care in Puerto Rico.

One of the speakers, Zil Goldstein of the Persist Health Project and Beth Israel Medical Center, noted that many trans people attempt to leave Puerto Rico to get transition-related care. Improving trans care here “has to start with hormone treatment,” she said. In New York, Zil sees sixteen to eighteen patients a day to provide hormone treatment; here in Puerto Rico, advocates say it is nearly (if not entirely) impossible to access.

But even in New York, the trans communities face many barriers to receiving quality care. “Anytime a trans person accesses healthcare, we’re dealing with transphobia,” Zil noted. This explains why, for example, 30% of trans youth in the U.S. put off receiving medical care out of fear discrimination, said Susan Mash of the Trans Youth Equality Foundation.

The problem is certainly national. Lambda Legal attorney Dru Levasseur noted that in their 2011 report on LGBT health, When Health Care Isn’t Caring, it was the trans population that faced the most obstacles in the field of healthcare. And the roots go deeper than health, starting with the socioeconomic position of trans individuals in our society; according to the study, seven percent of trans individuals reported that they had no income at all, which makes even basic health care an impossibility.

Speaking to doctors, Dru said, “You don’t have to be a specialist,” but you do need to take the time to educate yourself on the basics of trans care so that you are not turning people away. Noting that Lambda can connect them to resources, “there really is no excuse,” he added.

Dr. Carmen Milagros Vélez of the Universidad de Puerto Rico has been working on improving services for trans people in the community health clinics across Puerto Rico. Often, medical personnel think that LGBTT people want special treatment, and do not want to do anything different than they do for their other patients. But given the unique health needs of the community, and the disparities it faces, LGBTT people do need specially-tailored care – although this is about basic equality, not about “special” treatment.

And the need for that equality is urgent: in Dr. Milagros Vélez’s research, 35% of clinic respondents said they were not prepared to work with trans clients. The advocates at the summit agree that that needs to change.

Stay tuned to the Network blog and my twitter account, @LGBTadvocacy, for lots of live coverage of the summit!