Weekly Wellness News – Surgeon General Says LGBTQ Youth Should Be A Priority. We Think So, Too.

Each week LGBT HealthLink, a Program of CenterLink, and researcher and blogger Corey Prachniak, bring you a round up of some of the biggest LGBT wellness stories from the past seven days. For more LGBT Wellness, visit a page dedicated to the topic here.


Surgeon General: E-Cigs a Risk for Queer Youth sgr

The U.S. Surgeon General released a report finding that e-cigarettes have become the number one tobacco product among youth, and suggesting that LGBT youth should be a priority in research and monitoring. Previous research has shown that LGB youth are 25 percent more likely to use e-cigarettes than are other youth, a scary fact as little is known about their long-term dangers.


At-Risk Black/AA Men Favor Riskier Vids

A study found that 78.7 percent of queer, HIV-negative Black/African American men prefer to watch sexually-explicit material with condomless versus condom-inclusive sex. Men who had a low perception of the risks involved in sex and those who themselves engaged in risk behaviors (including alcohol and drug use) were more likely to hold this viewing preference. Other research has shown that what queer men view in explicit videos impacts how they behave in real life.


nashvilleCountry Music TV Joins Fight for Equality

NBC News reports that nearly 200 businesses in Tennessee are uniting to oppose anti-LGBT legislation, and that the businesses include Country Music Television among other local and national heavy-hitters. The movement is a response to a bill passed earlier this year that will, stunningly, allow mental health providers to refuse to treat queer patients.



Trans Iowans Struggle to Access Care

The Des Moines Register reports that transgender Iowans have seen progress but still face major hurdles in accessing care in a state that has banned Medicaid from covering gender-affirming surgery and that has allowed insurance companies to exclude transgender-related care. Planned Parenthood and the University of Iowa are named as those leading the way for trans patients.


A Safer Cigarette? It’s a Trap!

Researchers found that most smokers of Natural American Spirit cigarettes – which brand themselves as “natural” and “organic” –erroneously believe the brand is healthier than other cigarettes. Furthermore, LGB people were more than twice as likely to smoke this brand as were others, suggesting queer smokers may be especially susceptible to the brand’s implied and shady claims.

If You Are Still Smoking with HIV – You Are Not Alone. Weekly Wellness Right Here.

Each week LGBT HealthLink, a Program of CenterLink, and researcher and blogger Corey Prachniak, bring you a round up of some of the biggest LGBT wellness stories from the past seven days. For more LGBT Wellness, visit a page dedicated to the topic here.



Smoking, Poverty, and HIV

Researchers found that queer men living with HIV were more likely to be persistent smokers over a two-year period if they were low-income, suggesting that smoking is related to intersectional disparities based on sexual orientation, HIV status, and economic position. Men whose partners were smokers were also more likely to be persistent smokers themselves.


Trans Survey Shows Serious Disparities

The National Center for Transgender Equality released a report based on its survey of 27,000 trans people, and found that in the past year 23% had put off healthcare out of fear of transphobia while 33% had at least one bad experience with providers. HIV remained a major problem in some subgroups, with almost 1 in 5 black trans women reporting that they are living with HIV. Meanwhile, 40% of all respondents had attempted suicide at some point in their lives.


rainbowhhsHHS Highlights Health Advancements

The Department of Health and Human Services released a report highlighting its work to advance health equity for LGBT individuals, including implementing the nondiscrimination provision for trans individuals, creating a new Senior Adviser for LGBT Health, and naming LGBT individuals as an official priority population with NIH.


Preventing Cancer in Queer Patients

Researchers published a guide on preventive and primary care for LGB patients, and pointed out that while there is limited data on things such as cancer rates, the fact that queer folks have higher risks like smoking and depression should put providers on notice. They also note that lower rates of cancer screenings and HPV vaccination may increase the queer cancer burden.


Arkansas Court Permits Same-Sex Exclusion arkansas

The Arkansas Supreme Court ruled that the state Department of Health could continue denying same-sex partners from both getting listed on the birth certificates of their children, which are currently limited to a “mother” and a “father.” The case could now be appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court in a test of how far their previous marriage equality ruling should extend.


Protecting LGBT Folks from Discrimination

Relatedly, the Center for American Progress published a report on how advocates can continue to pursue equality across the country, and why it matters for improving the lives (and health) of queer individuals.

Weekly Wellness Roundup – There’s An App For That!

Each week LGBT HealthLink, a Program of CenterLink, and researcher and blogger Corey Prachniak bring you a round up of some of the biggest LGBT wellness stories from the past seven days. For more LGBT Wellness, visit the page dedicated to the topic here.


Should HIV Testing Be Offered At Schools?

A study of young queer men of color found that nearly two-thirds would get tested for HIV in school if it was offered, and one-third said that this option would increase their overall likelihood of getting tested. In-school testing could remove barriers that the youth identified, like having the time and money to travel to a clinic, and keeping testing hidden from parents.

Queer Men Unaware of HPV Risk

A study of queer young men found that even those who had been vaccinated for HPV knew little about it, thought it was mostly for women and underestimated the risk of HPV. Some worried that seeking the vaccine would make them look promiscuous or out them as queer. “If there was more education about it,” one participant suggested, “it won’t be as taboo.”

Youth Keen on Cessation App smokefree3

Queer Canadian youth said in a new study that they would like a culturally-tailored phone app to help them quit smoking, especially if it was tailored to the LGBTQ community and connected to social media like Facebook. Participants also said they would like the app to have distractions to keep them from smoking and offer rewards to keep them motivated.

Here in the U.S., smokefree.gov offers text messaging programs tailored for all individuals. Check it out here

Four in Ten Miss Mammography Guidelines

A Seattle nonprofit found that only 60 percent of LGBT people age 50-74 had their recommended mammogram in the last two years, compared to 76 percent of the overall population. Eighty-three percent of trans men and 67 percent of gender-nonconforming people cited lack of cultural sensitivity from providers as a reason for avoiding screenings, while half of trans women cited not knowing the guidelines.


pcnaPediatrics Journal Highlights Queer Health

A special LGBT issue was released from the journal Pediatric Clinics of North America, featuring lots of great research on caring for queer youth. For example, one article seeks to educate providers about how to diagnose and treat gender incongruence, while another explains the role that clinicians can play in addressing anti-LGBT bullying.

New Laws Something to Spit At?

HIV advocates in Australia condemned recent laws (which also appear in many U.S. states) in which people who spit at police officers have to undergo mandatory HIV testing. Advocates say that spitting presents “practically zero” risk of HIV transmission, and that the laws perpetuate unfounded stereotypes.

Beauty Tips from Miss Alyssa Edwards and More from this week’s LGBT Wellness Roundup

Each week LGBT HealthLink, a Program of CenterLink, and researcher and blogger Corey Prachniak bring you a round up of some of the biggest LGBT wellness stories from the past seven days. For more LGBT Wellness, visit the page dedicated to the topic here.



Drag Queen Schools Public on Smoking

This Free Life, the anti-smoking campaign for LGBT youth, launched a series of web videos on beautology – that is, “the science of everyday pageantry” – taught by drag queen Alyssa Edwards. Viewers are urged to maximize their flawlessness by avoiding the physical damage caused by smoking, which queer youth do at a 33% higher rate than their peers.


What Protects At-Risk Youth from HPV?

A study of at-risk youth, about half of whom were LGBT, found that only 8% of males and 30% of females had initiated the HPV vaccine, which can prevent cancer. Youth were more likely to do so if they had an annual medical exam, another vaccination, or (among women) a Pap or STI test, which shows the importance integrating HPV vaccination into routine visits.


Bad News, Good News on Gender-Affirming Care mn

The Department of Veterans Affairs announced it was canceling recent plans to cover gender-affirming surgeries for transgender veterans, citing concerns over funding. On the other hand, a Minnesota court overturned that state’s ban on gender-affirming surgery for participants in its Medicaid program, saying it violated equal protection of the law.


Bisexual Stress Compounds Disparities

A study found that stress related to being bisexual predicted poorer physical health, “above and beyond” that caused by sexual minority stress in general. The discovery may help explain why bisexual folks tend to have worse health than other queer individuals. Surprisingly, bisexual cisgender men had less bisexuality-related stress than did their trans and cisgender female peers.


savetatasQueer Women Have Heightened Breast Cancer Risk

Researchers found that while there is insufficient data on whether sexual minority women have higher breast cancer incidence, there is ample evidence that they are at increased risk. Higher rates of smoking, obesity, and alcohol use all point to higher breast cancer risk, and lower rates of healthcare use which may hinder effective screening. Stay healthy and get screened!


Key Differences Found in LGBT Asylum Seekers

A study found that compared to others seeking asylum, LGBT asylum seekers were more likely to have experienced sexual violence, childhood persecution, and persecution by their own family, as well as to have suffered from suicidal ideation. Queer asylum seekers may need tailored interventions to heal from these particular kinds of trauma.

Fresh LGBT Wellness News for your Holiday Week

Each week LGBT HealthLink, a Program of CenterLink and researcher and blogger Corey Prachniak bring you a round up of some of the biggest LGBT wellness stories from the past seven days. For more LGBT Wellness, visit the page dedicated to the topic here.


Telemedicine Aids Trans Patients

The San Francisco Chronicle reported an uptick in popularity for TransLine, a service that allows doctors nationwide to ask clinical experts for help with trans patients. The volunteer-run service is helping trans individuals get quality care when their local doctor may not have experience in trans health.


More Evidence of Queer Smoking Disparities  stopsmoking

Government researchers found that while national smoking rates declined from 21% a decade ago to 15% today, rates among LGB individuals remain high. 19.8% of lesbian and bi women smoke cigarettes, compared to 13.4% of heterosexual women, while 21.5% of gay and bi men smoke, compared to 16.6% of heterosexual men. Factors like being uninsured and having higher levels of psychological distress were also associated with smoking, and are more common among the LGBT community.


Trans Stress, Resilience Following Election

A leading crisis hotline for trans individuals reported “a record number of calls” following Tuesday’s election, amid uncertainty as to what would happen to recent Obama administration policies prohibiting trans discrimination in healthcare and schools. Trans advocates, however, vowed to push forward on equality measures with the new administration.


stress4 in 10 Experience Stigma – and Have Higher HIV Risk

A study of men who have sex with men found that 41% had experienced at least one, two or all three of the enacted stigma – discrimination, harassment, or assault – based on their sexual orientation in the past year. Moreover, all these experiences were associated with having higher risk factors for HIV infection, such as having condomless sex and more sexual partners, suggesting stigma may contribute to HIV risk.


Minority Stress Linked to Partner Violence

A study found that among gay and bi men in Atlanta, experiencing intimate partner violence was correlated with encountering homophobic discrimination, internalized homophobia, and racism. Young men aged 18-24 were most likely to both experience and perpetuate partner violence, with rates dropping considerably among older age groups.



Bisexual Older Adults Face Worse Health

Researchers found that bisexual older adults face worse health than their lesbian and gay peers. The differences were explained by factors like more internalized stigma, less social support, and lower socioeconomic status, suggesting that improving the health of bi older adults may require addressing underlying social stigma and discrimination.

New Tobacco Infographic Shows Impact on Disparity Populations

Regina R. Washington, DrPH, Director, LGBT HealthLink

Facts at a glance from Achieving Health Equity in Tobacco Control


Fort Lauderdale, FL, November 16, 2016 – LGBT HealthLink worked in collaboration with our Sibling National Disparity Networks to create a tool that would provide a fast way to convey how tobacco, the cause of one third of all cancers, has a disproportionate impact on disparity populations. The resulting infographic will aid health officials, health providers, as well as decision makers to highlight pertinent information on the key tobacco related disparities, broaden understanding, and promote ideas for action.

“We hope that this tool will empower our stakeholders to draw attention to key tobacco disparities about each of these priority populations around the nation” stated, Regina R. Washington, LGBT HealthLink Director.

Our Collaborators: National African American Tobacco Prevention Network, National Native Network, The RAISE Network, Nuestras Voces, National Behavioral Health Network for Tobacco and Cancer, Geographic Health Equity Alliance, and SelfMade Health Network.

Please feel free to contact LGBT HealthLink for more information, and to share this infographic widely to motivate your grantees to build disparity population engagement in their daily activities.

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LGBT HealthLink, a program of CenterLink, links people and information to spread LGBT wellness best practices across state departments of health, federal decision makers, and community organizations. We are one of 8 CDC-funded tobacco and cancer disparity networks. www.lgbthealthlink.org.

LGBT HealthLink is supported by Grant Number 5 NU58DP004996-03-00 funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Its contents are solely the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official views of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or the Department of Health and Human Services.

CenterLink was founded in 1994 as a member-based coalition to support the development of strong, sustainable LGBT community centers. A fundamental goal of CenterLink’s work is to help build the capacity of these centers to address the social, cultural, health and political advocacy needs of LGBT community members across the country. CenterLink continues to play an important role in addressing the challenges centers face by helping them to improve their organizational and service delivery capacity, access public resources and engage their regional communities in the grassroots social justice movement. http://www.lgbtcenters.org/


What LGBT Health Advocates Can Learn from Colombia

Corey Prachniak - head shot (smaller size) By Corey Prachniak

Corey is a guest blogger and an attorney, LGBT health consultant, and Harvard Kennedy Fellow.

In newly-published research, my colleague Jimena Villar de Onís and I explore the history of Colombia’s HIV movement, which from the beginning was led largely by gay activists and patients. Their efforts are inseparably tied to a broader movement of patients who, over many years of litigation, slowly expanded the idea of a “right to health” in the court system and in public opinion. Today, Colombia has arguably the most progressive right to health in the world, with a healthcare system based on human rights principles and court access when rights are violated – and HIV activists are largely to thank.

Although Colombia’s healthcare system, legal system, and culture all differ from that of the United States, their history has powerful lessons for those working towards health equity for LGBT communities in the U.S.


Bogota, Colombia – almost 8 million people and growing

Lesson One: Grow the Coalition

What started as a movement exclusively to get life-saving medications for HIV patients grew into a coalition focused on expanding healthcare access for all so-called “high-cost patients.” This included folks with very different backgrounds and conditions, such as people with cancer and those requiring dialysis, but who found common ground in the central failings of the healthcare system. All had been left behind and found strength in numbers.

In this newly-formed coalition, gay activists kept a leading role, which they were prepared for given their experience advocating for LGBT rights and HIV medications. Unlike other patients, HIV and gay activists had a built-in community that gave them organizational strength. They used the power of their community to work with others who had healthcare needs, much as queer activists in the U.S. have fought against Big Tobacco and for improved healthcare coverage, changes that benefit everyone.

Lesson Two: Engage the Public 2016-09-25-13-06-16

Together with their new allies, the HIV activists pushed for government reform by helping patients across Colombia file thousands of lawsuits a year against health insurance companies and the government that regulated them. By 2008, the courts were so overwhelmed with the number of cases that the Constitutional Court took action and said in crystal-clear language that health was a human right, and that the government had violated it by not providing sufficient and equitable care.

When the Colombian president tried to override the decision by issuing executive orders, the people took to the streets by the thousands. Some scholars say that the most important result of the landmark decision was that it changed people’s perceptions of health, from a service to a fundamental right, and thus forced the government to comply with the decision.

Needless to say, U.S. discussions on healthcare and particularly the Affordable Care Act can be less-than-inspiring. Yes, there’s a time to get wonky and debate specifics, but how we frame healthcare – and equal access to it – can change public opinion in a way that rules and regulations can’t. Just look at the way a human rights-based argument changed how our society views same-sex marriage.

Lesson Three: Keep it Inclusive

From the beginning, Colombia’s HIV movement was led by people who had experienced marginalization based on their sexual orientation and HIV status (or even association with a condition that carried such heavy stigma). Nevertheless, inclusion of other marginalized groups did not come easy.

For example, women’s groups essentially had a parallel movement running alongside the main HIV groups, and the leaders of the growing HIV coalition remained mostly men. Transgender individuals and sex workers faced even greater marginalization than gay men, and while international organizations have given funding for work targeting this population, trans folks and sex workers have not had leadership opportunities themselves. Finally, with activism centered in the principal cities like Bogotá, rural people and those in the smaller cities often failed to benefit from the changes that those in the urban centers enjoyed.

Therefore, even in a very successful movement designed to help marginalized people, it wasn’t easy to give everyone a seat at the table – or to presume that what helped urban gay men would equally benefit others impacted by the virus.


Palace of Justice

The Bottom Line

Despite facing stigma, a seemingly-unstoppable epidemic, and opposition from a conservative culture, gay activists and others at the forefront of Colombia’s HIV movement achieved what is to date the biggest right-to-health success in the world. By making healthcare for marginalized people a matter of human rights, they changed the conversation and made their criticism of the system one to which every Colombian could relate. If we in the U.S. can follow Colombia’s example, maybe we can do for health equity what we did for marriage equality, and usher in a more just healthcare system for all.

 Corey and Jimena’s full publication is available in English and in Spanish here.