Reflections from World AIDS Day – #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.

LISTEN to our Weekly Wellness Roundup podcast! Subscribe here: https://bit.ly/LGBTWellnessPodcast or where ever you podcast.

On World AIDS Day, a Focus on Transgender Inclusion 

Helping to mark World AIDS Day on December 1, the Journal of the International AIDS Society published a study looking at different countries’ national strategic plans for addressing HIV, and found that two-thirds mentioned transgender populations in at least one of five key areas – but that only 8.3% of plans mentioned transgender folks across all five areas. Moreover, transgender individuals were more likely to be included in background materials than in sections around data and budgets, which might be concerning, given the needs for data and funding to address HIV among this disproportionately-impacted population. Countries in the Asia-Pacific region were most likely to mention trans people throughout their HIV strategic plan. 

Trans Experience across HIV Care Continuum

AIDSMap shared research finding that less than eight in ten transgender women living with HIV in the US had ever received care to treat the condition, and less than two in three initiated care within the first three months of being diagnosed as HIV positive. These estimates are based on a review of available studies and meta-analysis, given the lack of comprehensive data on the HIV care continuum among transgender women in the US, despite the severely inequitable impact of HIV on this community; even less data is available on transgender men. 

Major Disparity in HIV Risk for Trans Women – and Men

Plos One published a study finding that on average across various sources of data, the prevalence of HIV among trans feminine individuals was almost 20% and among trans masculine individuals was about 2.6%. That put these populations at a 66 times and 7 times increased risk, respectively, when compared to the general population. The numbers reveal the dire extent of the inequitable burden of HIV among not only trans women, who are somewhat better included in research, but also among trans men. 

State of HIV across Europe

The European Centre for Disease Control and Prevention published a report on HIV across the European region, finding that sex between men was still the biggest mode of HIV transmission, accounting for about four in 10 new cases, while injection drug use was responsible for about one in 25. Transgender individuals, sex workers, and people who are incarcerated also faced increased risk, although there was no standardized measure between countries to measure many of these disparities, which researchers note as an area needing improvement.  

COVID-19 Vaccines and HIV Concerns in LGBT Community

WFAE reported on a new study finding that one in three (32%) of LGBT adults were worried that the COVID-19 vaccines could interrupt their HIV treatment or prevention medication, a concerning fact given that the vaccines have not been found to have complications for people on ART or PrEP to treat or prevent HIV, respectively. Black LGBT adults were more likely than others to believe this, with 39% reporting concerns, as were Latinx LGBT folks at 34%. Another study found that about two-thirds of people living with HIV had received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine by May. 

Center Confronts Youth Homelessness Crisis

Pink News reported on what the Compass Community Center in Lake Worth, Florida, is doing to support LGBT youth experiencing homelessness. The center’s staff say that most of the youth they serve are experiencing homelessness due to family conflict, which is especially common among transgender youth and leads to the population having 120% higher odds of ending up without stable housing compared to other youth. The center helps connect youth to resources and support, and notes that the entire community does better when these youth enjoy a higher quality of life. 

Find out more about your local LGBT community center using CenterLink’s interactive directory

Anti-Trans Bills Take Toll – #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.

LISTEN to our Weekly Wellness Roundup podcast! Subscribe here: https://bit.ly/LGBTWellnessPodcast or where ever you podcast.

Anti-trans Bills Take Toll 

Transgender Health published a study exploring how transgender and gender diverse youth feel about recent anti-transgender legislation that has advanced at the state level across the US, including bills aiming to ban gender-affirming care for youth. The youth described feelings of hopelessness, sadness, and fear as a result of the rhetoric and attacks on their identities, and also discussed how interruptions to their gender-affirming care would impact their health and lives. The participants urged policymakers to stop trying to control their personal health decisions and self-identities. 

White House Marks Day of Remembrance 

The White House published a statement recognizing November 20th as Transgender Day of Remembrance, while mourning the loss of the 46-plus transgender Americans who have died due to violence so far this year. As part of the recognition, the administration shared a report highlighting some of the concerns it has heard from transgender advocates, including with respect to healthcare access and discrimination, and the policies it is advancing as a result of these concerns. 

Research for Awareness 

Relatedly, Pride Study marked Transgender Awareness Week this month by sharing some of the novel research that has come out of the initiative, which aims to collect more data on LGBT health. The program has allowed researchers to examine many issues – such as eating disorders and pregnancy – that previously had little to no inclusion of transgender populations, as most research excludes questions on gender identity (as well as sexual orientation). One recent study examined the words that transgender and gender-expansive people use to describe different parts of their body, and found that many use non-medical terms which may be more detached from terminology that has traditionally been gendered. Another study found that transgender people were more likely than their cisgender peers to have gotten an HPV vaccine, and that they were more likely to have done so if they searched for information on social media rather than online in general. 

LGBT Retirement Community Revisited 

US News reported on the vanishing LGBT retirement community known as the Palms of Manasota, which was touted 20 years ago as the first of its kind – but has since struggled as many original residents have passed away and the new developers have reduced LGBT-specific advertising. Experts say housing initiatives for LGBT older adults often struggle because they cannot prioritize LGBT folks or exclude others, instead only using LGBT-friendly marketing to drive LGBT residents in larger numbers. Still, advocates say that the need for such initiatives is great, given the unique needs and stigma facing LGBT older adults, which drew retirees to the Palms to begin with. 

Trans Mental Health Examined

LGBT Health published a study finding that compared to cisgender White adults, several subpopulations of transgender adults – including those who were White, American Indian, Alaska Native, or “other” or multiple races or ethnicities – had higher odds of frequent mental health distress as well as lifetime depression diagnoses, after controlling for sociodemographic differences. Few studies have looked at trans mental health among different ethnic and racial groups, with researchers calling for more study.

Smoking Differences among LGBT Mexicans

Meanwhile, a study of adults in Mexico found that sexual minority people who smoke were more likely to have depression than heterosexual smokers. Gay men were more likely to exhibit smoking dependence, while bisexual men had higher dependence with respect to e-cigarettes, and lesbian women were more likely to smoke menthols. The results highlight the importance of nuance in addressing smoking in the LGBT community, which disproportionately uses tobacco products.

New HIV Treatment Brings Choice, Hope

ABC News reported that an injectable HIV treatment is now being offered for the first time in the UK, where eligible patients can receive a single shot every other month instead of taking a daily pill to treat HIV infection. A similar, but monthly, regimen has also been recently approved by the FDA in the US. The injection provides a new option in the fight against HIV, which disproportionately impacts transgender individuals and sexual minority men, but will not be possible or the best choice for everyone – including those who have trouble getting to their provider’s office for the shot. 

Heart Health among Trans Folks

Healio reported on findings shared by the American Health Association suggesting that transgender individuals have some increased risks with respect to cardiovasular health. For example, those on estrogen hormone therapy are more likely to experience blood clots, and overall transgender people report elevated body mass indexes (BMIs). They also note that transgender people who are undergoing gender-affirming hormone therapy are more physically active than trans people who are not using such care, suggesting that expanding gender-affirming care could have exercise and thus cardiovasular health beneifts for the population. 

Woman Denied Surgery in Case Sexual Orientation “Changes”

Irish Central reported on the story of a lesbian woman who sought a hysterectomy and was denied care by her provider, who said that she may “change” her sexual orientation in the future and wish to have children, which a hysterectomy would prevent. The woman, who is seeking the surgery to deal with chronic pain, said that she was given no medical reason for being denied care – just the provider substituting his judgment for her own. Her story has gone viral on social media, with many sharing similar stories and concerns about the competence of healthcare providers to treat LGBT people. 

Examining Suicide Deaths in Tokyo

LGBT Health published a study finding that between 2009 and 2018, gay males made up the majority of deaths due to suicide among LGBT people in Tokyo, with transgender people also at high risk. There were also differences in risk and protective factors when comparing LGBT and others who died from suicide, which could present ideas for interventions. However, researchers cautioned that the numbers likely underreported suicide deaths in the community and that better data would be a key step in making progress. 

All of Us Explores Social Determinants of 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.

LISTEN to our Weekly Wellness Roundup podcast! Subscribe here: https://bit.ly/LGBTWellnessPodcast or where ever you podcast.

All of Us to Explore Social Determinants of Health 

The All of Us research program announced that it would begin a new survey looking specifically at social determinants of health – or socioeconomic factors like housing, employment, and discrimination that research suggests account for one-third to one-half of our health outcomes as individuals. Social determinants of health are especially important for understanding the needs of populations like LGBT communities, who face stigma and unique barriers to social participation that impede health outcomes. All of Us includes questions about sexual orientation and gender identity, and has conducted specialized outreach to LGBT communities in the hope of improving the available data on our health. They expect the new social determinants of health data to be available for researchers to analyze and report by mid-2022. 

Join the All of Us research program and help improve our knowledge of LGBT health at http://joinallofus.org.

Update on NIH Diversity Efforts

In related news, NIH published an update on its efforts to increase the diversity of the scientific workforce, including addressing structural racism through the NIH UNITE initiative. Other updates include creating a new diversity and inclusion position within the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering (NIBIB), for which a candidate search is now underway. The director of NIBIB also mentioned the All of Us research program as one of the initiatives helping to steer NIH and the scientific community more broadly on addressing health among diverse populations, such as the LGBT community. 

Evaluating an Online Chat Platform for Youth

Prevention Science published a study on Q Chat Space, the online LGBT youth support system led by CenterLink, which found that meeting online was widely accepted by youth who tried it. Reasons for joining the program included wanting to meet other LGBT youth and needing a safe place to talk. Mental and emotional health was the most desired topic for groups chats, with about 44% of participants naming that as their preferred topic, while 33% were looking for groups specifically for gender minority youth and 28% wanted to receive sexual health education. Learn more about Q Chat Space here

Some Colleges Not Ideal for LGBT Students

On the subject of safe spaces for youth, USA Today shared a new report finding that 150 colleges and universities were institutions that LGBT students should avoid. Reasoning includes their track record on LGBT issues generally, whether they have sought religious exemptions from nondiscrimination laws, and whether they opposed the Supreme Court’s Bostock case that extended many nondiscrimination laws to include LGBT individuals. 

State Department Issues “X” Marker Passport

The Washington Post reported that the U.S. State Department has for the first time issued a passport with a nonbinary “X” marker instead of an “M” for male or “F” for female. The Department had announced in June that it would begin to issue such markers – as well as no longer require medical certification for M and F marker changes – and the X marker will still not be available for the general public until starting in 2022, when it will be incorporated as an option in passport application forms. Advocates hailed the move as critical for many intersex, nonbinary, transgender, and other sexual and gender minorities who may wish to have an X marker to be able to safely travel, access services, and protect their privacy. 

Mental Health Across the Lifespan

The American Journal of Preventive Medicine published a study finding that suicidal thoughts, plans, and attempts were more common among LGB adults, compared to their non-LGB peers, across age groups, races, and ethnicities, in keeping with previous studies. Interestingly, these mental health issues decreased less over the lifespan for gay and bisexual men than they did for all other groups, suggesting a need for sustained mental health support for this group as it ages. Black women also had lower rates of these issues than White women, regardless of sexual orientation. 

HPV Vaccination among Queer Australian Men

Frontiers in Public Health published a study examining HPV vaccine uptake among sexual minority men in Australia. Researchers found that slightly less than half (47.8%) of eligible patients at a sexual health clinic received their first dose of the three-dose HPV vaccine regimen, but that only about two-thirds of that number (or 30.3% of the full population) completed all three doses. They also found that gay men were about twice as likely as bisexual men to complete the three doses, and that men living with HIV were more likely than those who were not living with HIV and also not on PrEP to receive the full vaccine (although those not living with HIV but who were on PrEP did not have the same gap). 

Health of LGBT American Indian and Alaska Native Adults

NBC News reported on a study finding that LGBT American Indian and Alaska Native (AIAN) adults face various health disparities compared to their non-LGBT peers, as well as the US population at large. For example, 42% of LGBT AIAN adults have been diagnosed with depression compared to less than a quarter of non-LGBT AIAN adults and less than seven percent of the overall population. They also reported higher levels of economic insecurity and victimization.

Nine in Ten LGBT Adults Vaccinated 

HRC published new research finding that more than 90% of LGBT adults were fully vaccinated, far surpassing the national rate for all adults, with max vaccination sites being the most popular way of getting vaccinated. LGBT adults also seem to have been hit harder by the pandemic and to be more in need of vaccination, with 21% of LGBT folks reporting that they had experienced COVID-19 related illness during the pandemic compared to 14% of all adults nationally. 

Case Grows for Equal Fertility Treatment

Reuters reported on a case filed by sexual minority women in New York against the insurance company, Aetna. They say that the company is discriminating against LGBT patients because fertility benefits are far more difficult to access for same-sex couples, who must pay for up to a year of intrauterine insemination out-of-pocket before benefits kick in. The new lawsuit joins one filed earlier in the year by students, who also say the plan’s policies violate New York’s antidiscrimination laws. 

BBC Accused of Transphobic Reporting

Pink News reported on a growing controversy in the UK, where the BBC ran a story about cisgender lesbian women being preyed upon by transgender women, seeming to pit the LGBT community against itself. The story exposed anti-trans elements within the LGBT community but also the role of the media in responsibly reporting on LGBT (and especially transgender) issues. Many cisgender lesbian women took to social media to shoot down the idea of transgender people as predators, which some say harkens back to old stereotypes about gay individuals. 

Colorado Makes Trans Care History – #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.

LISTEN to our Weekly Wellness Roundup podcast! Subscribe here: https://bit.ly/LGBTWellnessPodcast or where ever you podcast.

Colorado Makes History on Trans Care 

Washington Blade reported Colorado becoming the first state in the country to include transition-related care as an essential health benefit that insurers must cover, following the Biden administration’s approval of the plan, as required under federal law. Both state and federal officials say the changes will make it easier for transgender people to access care that has proven benefits to their well-being and overall health. Such care has been increasingly covered in recent years, but previously was completely excluded, with many gaps still remaining. 

Workplace Challenges, Lawsuits Continue 

Relatedly, Bloomberg News profiled challenges transgender people face in the workplace, including getting access to the care they need. One transgender woman in Georgia not only fought to have her pronouns recognized and gendered uniform changed, but also faced a $6,800 bill for gender-affirming care, something she is now challenging in court. Dress codes, religious exemptions, and fertility benefits are other areas in which trans people have faced major barriers and that have now been challenged in courts as discriminatory and harmful. 

LGBT Residents Face Discrimination 

Medscape reported in a study finding that LGBT surgery residents were more likely to face bullying, sexual harassment, and discrimination, and were also more likely to consider leaving their residency program, when compared to non-LGBT peers. The news is concerning, not only because of the individual impact on those affected, but because fewer LGBT providers (and fewer who are comfortable being out) could hinder efforts to make care more LGBT inclusive. 

Some in Oklahoma OK with Nonbinary

The Oklahoman reported that the state’s health department issued a nonbinary gender marker on a birth certificate for the first time. A nonbinary person now living in Oregon requesting the change. The state’s governor responded by asking the legislature to ban the health department from doing so, incorrectly asserting that genders are limited to make and female. 

Higher Mortality for Trans Folks in the Netherlands

JAMA shared new research from the Netherlands finding that transgender women there were about twice as likely to lose their lives over a given period of time than were cisgender men, and three times as likely than cisgender women. Transgender men also had disparities compared to cisgender women, though not cis men. While the overall trend was similar over the years, HIV-related and suicide deaths both declined, a sign of hope. 

San Francisco Lags on LGBT Data 

Bay Area Reporter shared concerns that as California moves towards collecting more LGBT health data than most (or any) US states, San Francisco – known for its large LGBT population – has fallen behind. The city has so far produced little usable data, advocates say, problems the health department attributes to changes in its record system and COVID-19 response. The news points out the challenges that can come with attempts to incease sexual orientation and gender identity data. 

Big PrEP Gaps for Latinx Individuals – #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.

LISTEN to our Weekly Wellness Roundup podcast! Subscribe here: https://bit.ly/LGBTWellnessPodcast or where ever you podcast.

Big PrEP Gaps for Latinx Individuals

Contagion Live shared research finding low awareness of and referrals for PrEP among Latinx individuals at risk for HIV, principal among whom are sexual minority men and transgender individuals. Only 22% of Latinx individuals who tested for HIV and were eligible for PrEP were actually referred to services, and only 27% of those tested were aware of PrEP, revealing a large gap that could be addressed through both patient and provider education.

Action for Intersex Awareness Day

InterACT marked October 26 as Intersex Awareness Day by publishing 26 ways in which allies can support the intersex community. Among their tips: upgrading one’s vocabulary, for example, avoiding referring to some body parts as “male” and others as “female;” learning about the dangers of intersex-related surgeries that are carried out on young people without their consent; and asking one’s employer (or somewhere else where they visit often) about ensuring gender-neutral bathroom options and signage. 

Time to Talk About Pronouns

Elsewhere on the calendar, advocates celebrated International Pronouns Day as an opportunity to share with others the importance of understanding and respecting people’s pronouns, including those beyond the more common “he” and “she.” They explain how taking steps such as introducing yourself with your own pronouns can help educate others and make transgender and nonbinary people feel safe sharing their pronouns, as well. They also shared resources and ways to organize events to celebrate respecting others’ pronouns in workplaces, educational settings, etc. 

Working with Families of Trans Youth

Fenway Institute published a guide for pediatric and mental health providers and administrators on engaging with the families of transgender and other gender minority youth. These include ways of making clinical encounters more inclusive, such as having visible signs of support for transgender individuals around the office and introducing oneself with pronouns to create an affirming space. They also discuss how to work with parents who may not completely understand or support their child’s gender identity, including managing family conflict, validating feelings even if it may not be in line with one’s own thinking, and speaking one-on-one with the patient themself to create a safe space independent of the parent. 

Victimization Among LGBT Youth

LGBT Health published a study exploring victimization among LGBT youth. They found that different experiences of victimization co-occured more with with youth who identify as transgender or otherwise a gender minority, sexual minority youth who disclosed their identity to their family, and those who face identity-related stress or familial rejection. The authors stressed the need for interventions to both prevent and address victimization (such as bullying and sexual harassment), which have many negative health associations. 

Check-ups Could ID Potential Needs

Nursing Times published research exploring the idea of using primary care and annual check-ups to keep an eye on the health needs of transgender individuals, such as is done for other groups who are more likely to develop health needs (and who may have trouble accessing services when they do). The authors propose holding more conversations with transgender individuals to explore this idea and how it might be implemented to better meet their needs.  

Research Program Boosts LGBT Outreach – #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.

LISTEN to our Weekly Wellness Roundup podcast! Subscribe here: https://bit.ly/LGBTWellnessPodcast or where ever you podcast.

Research Program Boosts LGBT Outreach

The All of Us Research Program announced seven new community partners to help with its goal of creating a massive and diverse pool of health data to help researchers better understand the needs of different populations. The grantees include a team at Stanford University, which will focus on increasing enrollment among sexual and gender minorities, as well as establish an advisory group of adolescent sexual and gender minorities to help steer their participation. Other grantees will work on other priority populations, including Black and Latinx populations who tend to face disparities within the LGBT community as well. To learn more about participating in this novel program and contributing to what we know about our communities’ health, visit JoinAllofUs.org

CA Bill Would Improve Data 
On the subject of inclusive data, Pink News reported on a California bill recently approved by the state senate that would begin including sexual orientation and gender identity in data collected on victims of fatal violence. The result would be an unprecedented source of data on LGBT people who die from homicide as well as suicide, data that generally is not collected. One of the bill’s lead proponents says that the bill is really about preventing future violent deaths among LGBT individuals, a challenging task when advocates and policymakers lack full information. 

LGBT Mental Health During Pandemic

American Journal of Public Health published a study of five major US metropolitan areas that found straight, cisgender individuals had lower levels of anxiety, depression, and problematic drinking compared to all others during the first several months of the COVID-19 pandemic; in contrast, LGBT people were more likely to say they had experienced these problems “more than usual” during the pandemic. The researchers called for additional study and for policymakers to assess what supports can be implemented for LGBT folks dealing with mental health issues.

Rights Under Threat, Op-ed Says

LA Times published an op-ed explaining how a new law in Texas that allows private citizens to sue anyone who assists in the provision of an abortion after 16 weeks – which is constitutionally protected – could lead to a trend countering other civil liberties. For example, the article explains, a state could create a law allowing citizens to sue anyone who assists with a same-sex marriage, even though entering such a union was deemed a civil right by the Supreme Court. The controversial law has so far been allowed to stand. 

Scrutiny Follows Homophobic Attack in Brooklyn

Gay City News reported on the latest in what has been a string of anti-LGBT attacks in Brooklyn. In this case, a pair of individuals attacked customers of a bodega, one of whom is an out gay man and the other a heterosexual man whom the attackers assumed was gay, too. The owners of the store where the attack occurred are also under scrutiny for refusing to help the victims or call for emergency assistance, instead ordering the victims to leave the store, causing community leaders to call for more accountability and support from the business community. 

Mental Health & Support in Kenya

LGBT Health published a study led by an LGBT community center in Western Kenya, which found that LGBT community members who had experienced violence relating to their LGBT identity or had experienced intimate partner violence were more likely to have symptoms of depression and post-traumatic stress. Unfortunately, having social support was not associated with having more moderate experiences with these mental health conditions.

LGBT Folks Brace for Evictions – #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.

LISTEN to our Weekly Wellness Roundup podcast! Subscribe here: https://bit.ly/LGBTWellnessPodcast or where ever you podcast.

LGBT Folks Brace for Evictions

NBC News reported on a new study finding that 19% of LGBT people are currently behind on their rent, slightly more than the 14% of non-LGBT people who say the same – a startling fact as eviction moratoriums put in place during the COVID-19 pandemic come to an end. LGBT people, especially LGBT people of color, are more likely than others to rent rather than own their home, meaning they are more likely to be impacted by the issue in the coming months. LGBT people of color were more likely than their white LGBT peers, and non-LGBT people of color, to say they were behind on rent and feared eviction within the next two months. 

Research on Trans Youth and Cis Siblings 

Urology Times shared new research that compared transgender youth to their cisgender sibilings, and found that the former faced significant mental health disparities. For example, the transgender youth included in the study were more than five times more likely to have received a mental health diagnosis and were also more likely (although not to that extent) to utilize mental health services and be on related medications. They also found that most transgender youth started pharmaceutical gender-affirming care once they hit age 18, which researchers said said could indicate limited parental support.

Lil Nas X Receives Award

The AP reported that Lil Nas X has been honored by the Trevor Project, an LGBT organization focused on youth suicide prevention. They cite the artist’s openness about his challenges with coming out and mental health, as well as his advocacy for LGBT issues, as the rationale for Lil Nas X receiving their first-ever Suicide Prevention Advocate of the Year award. The Trevor Project’s most recent survey found that more than four in 10 LGBT youth had seriously considered suicide within the past year, framing mental health as a key issue facing the community. 

HIV Vaccine Fails

Medscape reported on a recent trial on an HIV vaccine that sadly failed to produce results, even as interest in a potential vaccine has increased since the development of COVID-19 vaccines last year. Heavily funded developers of COVID-19 vaccines did in just months what has not been done in 40 years of HIV history, and even as this trial failed, another began. Still, some suggest a renewed focus on proven prevention methods, such as PrEP, is needed while the potentially far-off solution of an HIV vaccine is being sought. 

Exploring Facial Masculinization 

LGBT Health published research on facial masculinization options for transgender men, a topic that researchers say is less commonly discussed than facial feminization for transgender women but that offers similar benefits. These, research suggests, include mental health benefits but also increased social acceptance and therefore less discrimination and victimization. In addition to summarizing the various procedures available, the article also discusses the growing options for insurance coverage of such treatment and strategies for providers to contribute to advocacy around broader acceptance and coverage of gender-affirming care. 

State Insurance Lawsuit to Proceed

On the subject of insurance, Reuters reported that an appeals court will allow a case to proceed against North Carolina’s State Health Plan, which decided in 2018 to exclude all types of gender-affirming care, including counseling, from its coverage. While states sometimes enjoy immunity from such challenges, the court ruled that the state had waived such privileges by accepting federal funds to bolster the health plan. Trans health advocates will still have to proceed and prove the case violates the antidiscrimination provision of the Affordable Care Act, which has increasingly been seen to include LGBT related discrimination. 

LGBT Folks Back Vaccines, Mandates – #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.

LISTEN to our Weekly Wellness Roundup podcast! Subscribe here: https://bit.ly/LGBTWellnessPodcast or where ever you podcast.

LGBT Folks Back Vaccines, Mandates

Kaiser Family Foundation published research finding that LGBT people are more supportive of COVID-19 vaccines and vaccine mandates compared to the general population. Eight in 10 LGBT adults are fully vaccinated, far above the population total, and about two-thirds (65%) support a vaccine mandate compared to half (50%) of non-LGBT adults. Researchers say politics are associated with these differences, as political views have been associated with sharply divided view on COVID-19 in general and the vaccines in particular. 

HIV Misinformation, Stigma High

Georgia Voice reported on a new study regarding HIV knowledge and stigma, which found that less than half (48%) of Americans said they feel knowledgeable about HIV and even less (42%) knew that someone cannot transmit the virus if they are undetectable. Not surprisingly given this limited level of knowledge, the survey also found high levels of stigma, with 53% of non-LGBT respondents saying that they would be uncomfortable having a doctor who was living with HIV. Stigma was higher in the South and Midwest regions than in the Northeast and West. 

Poor Trans Mental Health in Russia 

LGBT Health published a study finding high levels of anxiety and depression among transgender adults throughout Russia. About one in four had depression while even more, 45H%, were suffering from anxiety. LGBT identities and information are criminalized in Russia, likely contributing to minority stress. 

Healthcare Needs of Lesbian Women

Medical News Update reported on a study of lesbian women’s health, which found that most lesbian women were comfortable being out with their providers, despite experiences of discrimination. Women who were not comfortable being out to their providers were less likely to seek care at all. For lesbian women of color, having a provider who was also a person of color was key.  

Case Tackles Care Access During Incarceration

Washington Post reported on a transgender man who is incarcerated in a women’s facility in Virgina and for whom doctors have recommended gender-affirming surgery – which the prison is denying. Advocates are suing the prison, saying that this care is medically necessary and would address issues the man is having with respect to mental health. The prison says it provides access to all “medically-necessary treatment” but declined to comment on the case. 

SOGI Questions Limited for Medical Programs

Journal of Osteopathic Medicine published a study finding that less than 15% of included medical programs asked prospective students to self-identity their sexual orientation, which researchers say means that the schools cannot measure and pursue diversity of students with respect to orientation. More positively, 73% of programs allowed students to report a gender identity other than male or female, boosting visibility and inclusion of nonbinary students and others who eschew male or female labels. 

Holiday Week Double Edition: Census First Reveals Socioeconomic Disparities – #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.

LISTEN to our Weekly Wellness Roundup podcast! Subscribe here: https://bit.ly/LGBTWellnessPodcast or where ever you podcast.

Census First Reveals Socioeconomic Disparities

Bay Area Reporter reviewed new data from the US Census Bureau, which revealed in July that the latest rounds of its Household Pulse Survey – which look at socioeconomic wellbeing of households, among other things – were for the first time including questions about LGBT identities. The results found that LGBT people were more likely to reside in households with recent food insecurity, income loss, and other challenges that have major implications for health. For example, 36.6% of LGBT adults’ households faced difficulties paying expenses within the past week compared to 26.1% of non-LGBT adults’ households. 

Major Study Launched on Gender-affirming Surgery

Yahoo! reported on a new NIH grant that will fund visiting nurses in New York to conduct follow-up visits for patients who have recently undergone gender-affirming surgery. The five-year study will follow these transgender patients and measure their psychological wellbeing and quality of life over time, potentially providing valuable information on the benefits, risks, and needs related to this type of treatment. What research is available has shown widespread benefits for trans people who are able to access this type of care when desired. 

Anxiety High among Queer Wisconsin Students

Wisconsin State Journal reported on a new study of 27,000 students there who reported trouble accessing school and increasing mental health problems during 2021, as schools continued to struggle with COVID-19. It also found that 78% of students who identify as gay and lesbian and 71% of those who identify as bisexual experienced anxiety “always or frequently,” compared to 44% of heterosexual students, suggesting that stigma combined with pandemic-related isolation have taken a toll on the mental health of LGBT high schoolers. 

Parents Don’t Fully See Mental Health Challenges

Meanwhile, LGBT Health published a study on gender minority youth mental health that found that youths’ parents may not know the whole story. While parents were able to somewhat identify depressive symptoms in their children (albeit at a less severe level than the children self-identified), they underestimated the anxiety their children were facing. The results suggest the need for interventions to help parents of trans and nonbinary youth to identify, and therefore help address, the mental health issues that these youth face. 

Initiative Takes Testing Home

HRC launched a new HIV home testing initiative that aims to bring convenient and private testing to some of the most disproportionately impacted groups in the country: queer Black and Latinx men, and transgender women of color. In addition to providing individuals with tests that they can complete at home with the help of YouTube tutorials, the program will help link individuals to PrEP if they are interested as well as to other health services in their area. The populations targeted by the campaign face barriers to testing and services, such as stigma and socioeconomic disparities, that HRC hopes the program will help address. 

Mental Health in 2016’s Wake

LGBT Health published a study on the mental health of Black and Latinx sexual minorities following the 2016 presidential election. They found that across several indicators – psychological distress, suicidal ideation, and social wellbeing – there was a decline among this population in the year and a half following the election. The results suggest that 

political issues affecting marginalized populations have an impact on mental health that should be addressed. 

Healthcare Nondiscrimination Lawsuit Proceeds

Bloomberg reported that a lawsuit challenging the removal of LGBT-inclusive language from the Affordable Care Act’s nondiscrimination provision can proceed, giving a boost to LGBT health advocates who say that the change in policy hurts LGBT health access and equity. The court allowed the challenge (which is one of several similar cases across the country) to proceed, although the Biden administration has indicated its desire to add back in nondiscrimination protections for LGBT people. 

Tori Cooper Makes Much-needed History 

NBC News profiled Tori Cooper, the first Black trans woman on the Presidential HIV Council – an important step given the major HIV disparities faced by Black transgender women in the US; the article cites a CDC study of six cities finding that more than six in 10 Black trans women were living with HIV, more than other trans women and many, many times more than the overall population. Cooper said that many  changes are needed to address these inequities, including addressing systemic racism, expanding healthcare coverage, and allowing trans people to access correct identification documents.

Improving Trans Folks’ Care

CAP published a report on improving healthcare access for transgender adults in the US, something that is sorely needed given both the unique needs and severe barriers the community faces. Research has shown that minority stress related to stigma and discrimination helps explain disparities transgender people face with issues like mental health concerns and smoking; the population also faces elevated rates of violence, homelessness, and other challenges. They also call for expanded nondiscrimination provisions in healthcare services as well as what is covered by insurance.

Addressing Racial and Ethnic Disparities in Health

The Journal of the American Medical Association published an issue on racial and ethnic health disparities in the US, an important topic for those addressing LGBT health given the significant inequities faced by LGBT folks who are also Black, Latinx, or other people of color. The issue features topics such as access and affordability of care; provider-patient relationships; and how non-Black healthcare providers can take on anti-Black stigma within healthcare systems. 

Patients OK with SOGI Questions – #LGBT Wellness 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.

LISTEN to our Weekly Wellness Roundup podcast! Subscribe here: https://bit.ly/LGBTWellnessPodcast or where ever you podcast.

Patients OK with SOGI Questions

LGBT Health published a study finding that medical record questions on sexual orientation and gender identity were largely considered acceptable to urology and oncology patients, with only 5% choosing to not disclose their sexual orientation and less than 1% not disclosing gender identity. Just over half of patients considered these questions to be important. The results suggest that more healthcare providers and systems could ask patients about their sexual orientation and gender identity, which could improve care as well as help fill data gaps. 

Clinic Improves Care for Waiting Patients

Pediatrics published a study examining a clinic for transgender youth aimed at connecting them and their families to support and information during what can be a lengthy, year-plus wait to access gender-affirming specialty care. They found that these youth experienced less anxiety and depression compared to data collected on youth that had not received this service, and also reported a greater sense of agency and thus an improved outlook on their future. This promising intervention could help improve outcomes for youth as they await full access to care. 

Telehealth Walls Should Stay Down

The Hill published an opinion piece explaining that telehealth  – which has expanded greatly during the COVID-19 pandemic – is important for trans individuals and can and should be maintained after the pandemic is over. Telehealth allows transgender individuals to access care that sometimes is not available in their immediate vicinity, but regulations relating direclty to telehealth as well as things like state licensing systems have prevented wider use. The pandemic may have indicated that such restrictions are outdated and needlessly prevent access to care.

Health of Sexual Minorities 50-Plus

Psychiatric Services published a study finding that sexual minority women aged 50-plus were more likely than their heterosexual peers to smoke, drink alcohol, have a substance use disorder, and have used medical services to address substance use issues. In contrast, sexual minority men 50 and up had more chronic health conditions and mental health issues, but were less likely to have had inpatient stays for substance use issues compared to their heterosexual peers. 

Action Sought for LGBT Refugees, Asylees 

NBC News reported on an effort being made by several US senators to have increased protections for LGBT refugees and asylum-seekers. The State Department previously announced that it would aim to do more to protect these vulnerable populations and coordinate such efforts among the various relevant agencies, but the group of senators are seeking additional information as there has been limited news since the announcement in February. Hundreds of individuals apply for protections each year based on a fear of violence or death in their home country due to their LGBT identity. 

“Team LGBT” Makes History

NBC also reported that LGBT athletes in the 2020 Olympics – if they were to form their own team – would have won a collective 32 medals and have placed behind just 10 countries in terms of most medals won, behind France and ahead of Canada. Three in 10 out LGBT athletes won a medal during the games, with many using that platform to call for greater inclusion in sports and in society in general. 

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