Many Turn to Hormone “Grey Market” – #LGBTWellness Roundup

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.

Now you can HEAR your Weekly Wellness Roundup, too! Subscribe to our weekly podcast here: https://bit.ly/LGBTWellnessPodcast or where ever you podcast.

Many Turn to “Grey Market” for Hormones

Metro Weekly reported that almost one in ten transgender individuals in the U.S. is accessing hormone therapy through unlicensed vendors. The same study also found that one in five transgender people has been denied hormone therapy coverage by their insurer. Experts warned that going to the so-called “grey market” for access put people at risk for complications.

Righting the Ship on HIV

UNAIDS announced the publication of a new report that sets new targets for ending HIV. They say that the world was already behind on the goal of ending AIDS by 2030, and that the pandemic further hindered progress. The new goals call for reaching 95% coverage of HIV services among specific key populations, eliminating laws that discriminate against people living with HIV, and reducing stigma and discrimination based on HIV status and gender.

Birth Certificate Rule Under Review

South Bend Tribune reported that Indiana is appealing to the U.S. Supreme Court an appellate decision that struck down its rules on birth certificates. Currently, Indiana prohibits both spouses in a same-sex marriage from being listed on the certificate, which one couple says hinders their child’s access to healthcare and education. An appeals court said the rule is unconstitutional.

Health of Black Trans Southerners

QNotes reported on new research on the healthcare experiences of Black transgender southerners. Less than half said they always or often had positive experiences with healthcare providers, and the group had higher rates of mental health issues and HIV compared to the LGBT population as a whole.

HPV Vaccine Uptake Low

Researchers evaluated HPV vaccine use and knowledge among men living with HIV – a key priority population for HPV vaccination. Only 7% had been vaccinated, with nearly two-thirds saying that they believed they were low risk. Being younger and of higher socioeconomic status were among the factors associated with higher rates of vaccination.

Much to Learn on Trans Men’s Reproductive Health

Reuters published an op-ed calling for more research on reproductive health of transgender men. For example, one area in which questions remain is contraception methods for trans men that do not interfere with hormone therapy (which, contrary to popular belief, is not itself a means of avoiding pregnancy). The author says that more funding and attention is needed for research.

Understanding Pregnancy among Trans People – #LGBTWellness Roundup

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.

Now you can HEAR your Weekly Wellness Roundup, too! Subscribe to our weekly podcast here: https://bit.ly/LGBTWellnessPodcast or where ever you podcast.

Understanding Pregnancy among Trans People

Researchers explored pregnancy among transgender and gender-nonconforming individuals, and found that 12% had been pregnant at least once. More than half (54%) of the pregnancies were unintended, and fifteen pregnancies occurred after testosterone initiation. Eleven percent of participants wanted to become pregnant in the future. The results were part of the PRIDE Study

Depression a Risk for Older Adults

A study found that LGB older adults were more likely than others “to fall into categories for mild cognitive impairment or early dementia.” The factor that stood out as contributing to this disparity was depression, with other areas (such as social connections and alcohol use) surprisingly not seeming to drive a difference in terms of cognitive functioning disparities.

Marking Trans Day of Remembrance

Time reported on this year’s observation of Transgender Day of Remembrance,  which began in 1999. The vast majority of transgender people who are killed in the U.S. are people of color, who comprised 89% of such victims since advocacy groups began tracking the issue. In Brazil, activists spoke of both an epidemic of transphobic violence but also newfound visibility.

Study Searches for Protective Factors

Researchers announced a new study that will examine what factors help prevent young bisexual and lesbian women from contemplating suicide. The $2 million national study will be the largest longitudinal study of this population ever conducted, and will address topics such as level of connectedness versus isolation and experiences during transitional periods in one’s life.

Trans Trio Sue West Virginia

LGBTQ Nation reported on three transgender individuals who are suing the state of West Virginia for denying medically necessary, gender-affirming care under state health plans. They are arguing that the exclusions are discriminatory since the same procedures are covered for cisgender people, and are using the reasoning applied by the Supreme Court in its landmark Bostock decision.

Paper Explores Research Ethics

The All of Us Research Program published a new white paper exploring the program’s ethical, legal, and social implications. The paper explains how All of Us is designed to bring forward new knowledge about groups that are underrepresented in scientific literature, including sexual and gender minorities, and that a commitment to diversity and inclusion is required to meet this goal. It also discusses how to acknowledge and address historical injustices faced by groups the program seeks to prioritize (such as LGBT folks) in biomedical research. Learn more about All of Us’s work with LGBT individuals here.

Anti-trans Media Messages Have Impact – #LGBTWellness Roundup

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.

Now you can HEAR your Weekly Wellness Roundup, too! Subscribe to our weekly podcast here: https://bit.ly/LGBTWellnessPodcast or where ever you podcast.

Anti-trans Media Messages Have Impact

A new study found that when transgender people were more frequently exposed to transphobic messages in the media, they were more likely to have symptoms of depression, anxiety, and global psychological distress. The study also found that exposure to such negative messaging was overwhelmingly common, with 97.6% of transgender people reporting this.

Some LGBT Folks Face Abuse During Pandemic

The BBC reported on abuse that has faced LGBT individuals during pandemic-related restrictions. Nonprofits in the U.K. say they have heard from record numbers of people reporting abuse from anti-LGBT parents or households, as well as partners who were not previously abusive. These challenges have left some homeless, and without help from authorities.

Evaluating Research on Trans Youths’ Families

Researchers explored the connection between family relationships and health for transgender and gender-diverse youth. Overall, they found moderately strong research in this area, but found some characteristics of strong families – including enjoyable time shared and spiritual wellness – were underrepresented in the literature, making these prime topics for future research.

Telehealth Opens Doors for Trans Folks

Housing Public Media shared how telehealth implemented because of COVID-19 is expanding options for transgender patients. Some patients who were displaced by the pandemic were able to keep their providers because of new telehealth options, and providers in big cities like Houston can now take patients from smaller cities and towns where gender-affirming care is lacking.

Bi Youth at Risk for Smoking

Futurity reported on new research that youth who came out as bisexual over a three year period were about twice as likely to pick up smoking as their heterosexual peers. Similar disparities were not found for peers who came out as gay or lesbian, suggesting that bisexual youth are especially at risk. Researchers attributed this to the stigma that bisexual folks face, even within broader LGBT communities.

When Unnecessary Exams Corrupt Care

The Feed reported on how transgender people are sometimes subjected to unwanted and unnecessary genital examinations when seeking unrelated care. Research shows that this type of treatment, and other negative experiences when receiving care, is sadly common for transgender individuals, and leads many to avoid getting necessary treatment.

Substance Use Disparities Grew among Youth – #LGBTWellness Roundup

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.

Now you can HEAR your Weekly Wellness Roundup, too! Subscribe to our weekly podcast here: https://bit.ly/LGBTWellnessPodcast or where ever you podcast.

Substance Use Disparities Grew among Youth

Researchers found that between 2005 and 2017, illicit drug use overall declined among high schoolers – but that the declines were sharper for heterosexual and bisexual students than they were for gay and lesbian students. The result was that disparities had actually increased by 2017 for gay and lesbian students compared to their peers, a troubling fact despite the overall decline in use.

Protections Needed in Schools, Online

Human Rights Watch found that governments around the world need to take more action to stop bullying and violence in schools, as well as in online “spaces” used by students. They say that LGBT students as well as girls, refugees, and students with disabilities are the most common victims, and that school personnel are often part of the problem rather than solution.

Recruiting LGBT Youth for Research Studies

A study examined methods for reaching sexual minority young men and transgender youth on social media, and found that ads targeting those populations garnered better recruitment for a health survey than ads that did not. They also found that video-based versus photo-based ads helped with recruitment in some groups, and that their ads did better than a comparable, national campaign at getting Latinx and multiracial participants.

HIV Diagnoses Decline in U.K.

Attitude reported that HIV diagnoses among queer men in the U.K. dipped to just 1,700 in 2019 – the lowest number of new infections in that community since 2000. The total number of infections among all individuals fell 10% between 2018 and 2019. Officials say that frequent testing, access to PrEP, and quality treatment for those living with HIV are all needed to continue the trend.

Healthcare System and Black Queer Youth

Popsugar reported on how the healthcare system fails Black queer youth in unique and troubling ways. For example, they point to research from the Trevor Project finding that almost half of Black queer youth have wanted mental health services within the past year but have been unable to receive it. Black queer youth also require systems to address both a lack of LGBT knowledge and understanding, and and anti-racist policies and practices, to be able to adequately serve them.

Sexual Minority Republicans Feel Disconnected

The Advocate reported on new research finding that sexual minorities who identify as Republicans feel less connected to the LGBT community than do those who identify as Democrats. They also were more likely to report that they would prefer to be heterosexual and that their sexual minority identity was not an important part of who they are.

Special Edition!! Coverage of CenterInk’s V-Summit – #LGBTWellness Roundup

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.

Now you can HEAR your Weekly Wellness Roundup, too! Subscribe to our weekly podcast here: https://bit.ly/LGBTWellnessPodcast or where ever you podcast.

Last month, LGBT HealthLink and our parent organization, CenterLink, hosted a “V-Summit” to bring together LGBT leaders from across the country. In this week’s special edition of the LGBT Wellness Roundup, we look back on some of the many fascinating sessions that involved LGBT health.

HIV Services During COVID-19

Dr. John Brooks of the CDC presented on “COVID-19: The State of the Pandemic and Implications for HIV Care and Prevention.” The pandemic has presented myriad challenges to providing HIV prevention and care services. For example, from January through May, lapses in PrEP use at Fenway Health in Boston increased 191% while new starts dropped by 72%, according to recent research; HIV and STI testing also dropped 85% during that time. The CDC has issued guidance to HIV care providers on how to continue services during the pandemic, such as by using telemedicine and at-home testing. Francisco Ruiz of the CDC’s Let’s Stop HIV Together campaign encouraged LGBT service providers to continue sharing their many resources and social media tools to ensure LGBT folks do not let their guard down on HIV, despite the public’s heavy focus on COVID-19.

LGBT Puerto Ricans are Stronger than Crises

Dr. Wilfred Labiosa of Waves Ahead presented on “Adapting Mental Health and Ancillary Services in Times of Crisis.” Dr. Labiosa discussed the need to constantly adapt services amid crises the island has faced in recent years, ranging from hurricanes to political unrest to COVID-19. They have also been helping create vigils to recognize the murders of six transgender people in the island since January, as well as celebrations of their lives. Kiaranel Castro Lebrón discussed the organization’s Descubrete program, which includes coaching, training, and mental health services to LGBT older adults to become entrepreneurs and manage their own microbusiness. She discussed how helping people manage their mental health issues allows them to pursue economic opportunities that they might not otherwise have. Castro Lebrón also said that the pandemic has posed a major obstacle to the program’s participants in accessing services, as well as in continuing their businesses, especially given a lack of technological resources.

Bringing Research Home for LGBT Folks

Mahri Bahati of PRIDEnet presented on “Research and the Community: Listening Sessions with SGM People Across the Country.” She discussed research initiatives including the PRIDE Study, a nationwide long-term study following LGBT people to learn about their health, and the All of Us research program, a federal initiative that includes an LGBT component. She discussed the importance of researchers seeking out LGBT voices at all points in the research process, such as design and publication, and not just when looking to recruit participants. Bahati also discussed how often, LGBT people do not feel that research applies to them specifically, or do not see how policies or programs change as the result of research. More collaboration and communication with the community can address these issues and make LGBT folks feel invested.

Keeping Connected to LGBT Older Adults

The session “Senior Programming Before COVID, the Pivot and the Future” discussed how LGBT center programming for older adults has changed during the pandemic. Adrienne Percival of Compass discussed moving in-person events to virtual settings, while also keeping the center physically open by appointment and using phone trees for outreach to seniors who could not join virtual meetings. Britta Larson of the Center on Halsted discussed pairing volunteers with seniors to be able to have one-on-one conversations weekly, as many lacked social contact and needed someone to talk to. They also offered a pop-up pantry and events where seniors could take meals to go, as they were concerned with food insecurity among LGBT older adults being exacerbated by the pandemic. 

Trans Policies and Mental Health – #LGBTWellness Roundup

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.

Now you can HEAR your Weekly Wellness Roundup, too! Subscribe to our weekly podcast here: https://bit.ly/LGBTWellnessPodcast or where ever you podcast.

Trans Policies and Mental Health

A new study found that in states with poor scores on transgender-inclusive policies, there was an association between minority stressors (like discrimination) and suicide attempt among transgender people. That relationship was not present in states that did better on trans equality, suggesting that a lack of protections, or laws that actively discriminate, may put trans lives at risk.

VA Not Collecting SOGI Data, But Open

The Advocate reported that the Veterans Administration healthcare system is not yet collecting data on sexual orientation and gender identity of patients – meaning disparities are harder to identify and health needs may not be being met. The VA said it agrees with the importance of collecting such data, as the number of LGBT veterans grows following the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” (although the status of transgender service members remains complicated).

Social Media Could Educate LGBT Folks GLobally

A study of sexual minority men and trans women in Nairobi and Johannesburg found that 71% and 60%, respectively, used social media for socializing or finding sexual partners. While meeting online was thought to be safer in some ways than in-person, concerns remained about safety and privacy. Social media could be a largely untapped way to bring LGBT health information to people living in these African cities, researchers say. 

Pregnancy among Trans and Nonbinary Folks

Healthline reported on pregnancy among trans men and gender-nonconforming people with uteruses. The issue is often ignored, and providers often overstate the impact that hormone therapy will have on this population, who usually start menstruating again within months if they stop treatment. Research suggests high numbers of unplanned pregnancies among transgender men, likely due to this misinformation.

New Report Calls for Data

The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine called for more data on LGBT health. Among the reasons for more data are the growth and shift in the population over the past decade, the lack of intersectional data on LGBT people of color, and the need for data that explores factors such as environmental and economic issues that impact health.

Pandemic’s Impact on Trans Health

The University of Delaware Review explored how the COVID-19 pandemic may be impacting transgender individuals, who already faced challenges accessing affirming providers before healthcare services became severely strained. Additionally, federal protections against discrimination for trans patients were recently rolled back, increasing fear in the community.

Consenting to Gender-Affirming Care – #LGBTWellness Roundup

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.

Now you can HEAR your Weekly Wellness Roundup, too! Subscribe to our weekly podcast here: https://bit.ly/LGBTWellnessPodcast or where ever you podcast.

Complications Consenting to Gender-affirming Care

Researchers examined consent forms for youth to receive gender-affirming care and found that many had incomplete information to guide providers, youth,and guardians in the process. For example, only half of the forms noted the importance of shared decision-making between youth and guardians, and while all the forms discussed the risks of treatment, not all discussed the benefits.

PrEP Use Dropped in Australia

Australia’s ABC News reported that 42% of sexual minority men there who had been on PrEP prior to the COVID-19 pandemic had stopped taking it by April. Most men reporting doing so because they were having less sex, but researchers warn that as the pandemic (and related restrictions) evolve, there will be a need for many sexual minority men to consider returning to PrEP.

Bi Folks Miss Health Benefit of Education

Researchers found that heterosexual, gay, and lesbian adults all enjoyed better health if they had earned at least a bachelor’s degree compared to their peers who did not do so. However, the benefit was less pronounced for bisexual adults. The authors say discrimination facing bisexual individuals could help explain why they get less of a health boost from education.

HPV Vaccine Rates Increase

A study found that since 2011, there has been a six-fold increase in young sexual minority men reporting HPV vaccination; until that date, the vaccine was not recommended for males, despite sexual minority males being especially at risk. Now, about 33% of sexual minority aged 18-26 men not living with HIV, and 51% of sexual minority men aged 18-26 living with HIV, reported vaccination.

Texas Social Workers Can Discriminate

ABC News reported that Texas has voted to allow social workers to discriminate on the basis of gender identity, sexual orientation, and disability, which had previously been prohibited. Advocates for LGBT individuals and people with disabilities say the move will make it harder for these groups to obtain services and more likely to face discrimination from service providers.

Traveling While Trans

Travel & Leisure shared the stories of two transgender travelers, how their identities impact their travel experiences, and the steps that they take to avoid uncomfortable or even unsafe situations. For example, one traveler recommends services like TSA PreCheck to minimize steps with airport security. They also rattle off their bucket lists for travel destinations. (Frankly, pretty much anywhere sounds good right now to us!)

All of Us Helping to Unmask COVID – #LGBTWellness Roundup

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.

Now you can HEAR your Weekly Wellness Roundup, too! Subscribe to our weekly podcast here: https://bit.ly/LGBTWellnessPodcast or where ever you podcast.

Research Program Helping to Understand COVID

All of Us Research Program shared the work it is doing on COVID-19 and its impact on different communities. All of Us is a national medical research program that individuals can join to make medical research more inclusive of diverse populations, including LGBT folks. Their work around COVID includes blood testing for antibodies; surveying how things like housing and food security have been affected; and evaluating health records to understand how COVID impacts different people.

Cardiovascular Health an Issue for LGBT Adults

The American Heart Association published a statement calling for more research on LGBT cardiovascular health. They say that LGBT adults face many stressors, such as discrimination and problems accessing care, that could cause or exacerbate problems for heart health – but little research has been done. They also call for medical education to be made more inclusive.

Intersectional Issues Face Queer Latinx Youth

Popsugar reported on the mental health challenges facing LGBT Latinx youth. Recent research has found high rates of attempted self-harm in this group, with researchers crediting this to the intersectional discrimination faced by LGBT Latinx youth, especially those who are trans or nonbinary. Fears surrounding immigration issues for themselves or someone close to them was a major factor in suicide attempt risk.

Exploring LGBTQ+ History Month

Romper explored the backstory and purpose behind LGBTQ+ History Month, which is recognized in October after a history teacher in Missouri decided that students needed to learn more about the LGBT community’s experiences. Learning about their own community’s history is also a protective factor for LGBT youth that reduces the toll stress and discrimination takes on their health.

Applying HIV Stigma Lessons to COVID-19

UNAIDS published a new report that applies what advocates and researchers have learned about reducing HIV-related stigma to the COVID-19 pandemic. The agency points to discrimination such as xenophobia that has played out during the pandemic, as well as the targeting of vulnerable populations – such as LGBT people – to explain the need for anti-stigma programming during this and future public health crises.

HIV among Queer Latinx Men

The CDC published new information about gay and bisexual Latinx men, including that they comprised 21% of new HIV cases in 2018 – a hugely disproportionate number given their size in the total population. Two in three of these cases were among queer Latinx men aged 13 to 34, indicating that the burden of HIV was particularly pronounced in Latinx youth and young adults.

Is Sharing Caring with PrEP? #LGBTWellness Roundup

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.

Now you can HEAR your Weekly Wellness Roundup, too! Subscribe to our weekly podcast here: https://bit.ly/LGBTWellnessPodcast or where ever you podcast.

Is Sharing Caring with PrEP?

POZ reported that about 10% of sexual minority men who take PrEP for HIV prevention share their medication with others, according to a 2018 survey – a concerning statistic given the importance of taking PrEP regularly and under medical supervision. The study also found that men in their 30s were much more likely to use PrEP than those in their 40s and above.

Sending Food and Love to LGBT Seniors

WMFE reported that The LGBT+ Center of Orlando is expanding its services for LGBT older adults thanks to a grant it received. The Center has been conducting phone outreach to older adults during the pandemic (which includes free mental health services from professionals) as well as working with the Salvation Army to send them boxes of food. Find an LGBT center near you using CenterLink’s interactive directory.

Sex Beyond Stereotypes

A study found that among sexual minority Latino men in New York, pleasure rather than masculine stereotypes or power dynamics played a more important role in determining one’s sexual positions or whether one participated in penetrative sex at all. The results could have implications for sexual health interventions, which rarely consider pleasure when seeking to change behavior.

Conversion Therapy’s Impact on Aging

A study of older sexual minority men found that 15% had experienced so-called conversion therapy at some point in their lives. Those who had experienced conversion therapy had 2-to-2.5 times the likelihood of having at least one psychosocial condition, compared to other men. Researchers say that experiences of conversion therapy could thus complicate healthy aging.

California Tackles Health Inequities

California announced that it has signed into law a package of new legislation aimed at addressing inequities facing LGBT individuals. One bill will increase data collection regarding LGBT health, while a second will ensure that transgender people are appropriately housed in prisons, and a third will establish a Transgender Wellness and Equity Fund.

Talk Covers Health Center’s History

Northwestern University hosted a talk by Dr. Kenneth Mayer on the evolution of Fenway Health’s model for delivering care to the LGBT community in Boston. The talk focused on how Fenway balanced its role as a healthcare provider for the community while also engaging in academic research.

Queer Latinx Communities Impacted by Pandemic – #LGBTWellness Roundup

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.

Now you can HEAR your Weekly Wellness Roundup, too! Subscribe to our weekly podcast here: https://bit.ly/LGBTWellnessPodcast or where ever you podcast.

Queer Latinx Communities Impacted by Pandemic

HRC published new data finding that Latinx LGBT individuals were more likely than other LGBT or other Latinx folks to have lost work during the COVID-19 pandemic and to be struggling economically as a result. With 40% of Latinx LGBT folks facing cuts to their work, many reported having to change household budgets or even having difficulty making rent payments. 

Virtual Health Summit
LGBT HealthLink held its annual e-summit, which brings together leaders in LGBT health from around the world on a digital platform. The event falls within its parent organization CenterLink’s own virtual summit, which this year is replacing its typically in-person event for LGBT centers that happens each year. The summit kicked off on October 13th.

Unpacking Disordered Eating Behaviors

Researchers found that LGBT individuals experience higher rates of disordered eating behaviors and body image dissatisfaction than their peers. For example, 10.5% of transgender men and 8.1% of transgender women reported having been diagnosed with an eating disorder at some point in their lifetime, with body disastisfaction likely being a significant stressor for trans folks.

Stigma during COVID-19 Pandemic

A study from the Canadian government found widespread discrimination there during the COVID-19 pandemic. Gender-diverse individuals were three times as likely as men (and also significantly more likely than women) to have experienced discrimination, while racial and ethnic minorities and youth were also at higher risk of reporting different forms of discrimination.

Discriminatory Policy Blocks Organ Donors

NBC News explored the archaic rules that prohibits sexual minority men from donating organs – a similar but less well-known rule to that which restricts blood donations from gay individuals. While tens of thousands of individuals wait for organ donors to come available, advocates say that the prohibition on gay men is based on HIV-related stigma rather than science.

Uprooting Biphobia

In recognition of Bisexual Awareness Week, the Advocate published a guide on how to address biphobia in others and in yourself. Noting that bisexual folks face disparities even when compared to gay and lesbian peers, they offer tips like not assuming a gay or straight identity when someone shares the sex of their partner and taking someone at their word when they say they are attracted to multiple genders (versus assuming it’s a lie or a “phase”).

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