HIV Transmission -> What We Know & Why States Are Getting It Wrong

HIV

andrew shaughnessy

By: Andrew Shaughnessy, Manager of Public Policy
PROMO Missouri
@AndrewShag

AIDS.gov states that certain body fluids from an HIV-positive person can transmit HIV.

The body fluids mentioned are: Blood, Semen (cum), Pre-seminal fluid (pre-cum), Recital fluids, Vaginal fluids, & Breast milk.

Nowhere on this list does it mention saliva. Missouri laws, similar to several States, criminalizes behaviors that the CDC regards as posing either no risk or negligible risk for HIV transmission, this includes saliva. The Justice Department goes so far as to detail the best practices States should incorporate to make HIV-related laws align with science.

However, earlier this week, Missouri Legislator Travis Fitzwater (R -49) introduced Missouri House Bill 1181, which would have made it a crime for an individual knowingly infected with HIV to intentionally project saliva at another person.

HB 1181


Missouri is no stranger to strict laws (MO Rev. Sec. 565.085) that criminalize certain behaviors that have been proven by science to not transmit HIV. Several States still reference criminal statutes that fall under this category, which is why States should start modernizing their HIV criminal laws: now. Enacted through the fear of the 80s – early 90s, Missouri, like many States, continues to get it wrong it when it comes to effective HIV/AIDS policy. States enacted these laws with the intention of reducing HIV transmission, however research shows that these fear-based laws have the opposite effect and help HIV proliferate.

Missouri House Bill 1181 was scheduled for a hearing on Tuesday April 7th, but at the last moment was taken off of the docket. This hopefully signals a step in the right direction — but we still have a long journey ahead. Advocates in Missouri and nationwide should continue to monitor any legislation that seeks to further criminalize people who live with HIV.

LGBT Health Equity Campaign Materials to share!

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Are you interested in being a champion for LGBT Health Equity in YOUR state?! Are you already a champion, and looking for some new campaign ideas?!

The Network has created a template postcard for state governors that can be easily co-branded and printed by your organization! The goal of the postcard campaign is to engage governors in ensuring that states are implementing LGBT health best practices guidelines to eliminate health disparities. By having community members sign a postcard for their governor, you will also be educating the community about health disparity issues, while also engaging local support!

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If you are interested in, or would like further information on this postcard campaign, please contact us at:  healthequity@lgbtcenters.org!

postcard flyer CC

Click here to download a PDF of the above flyer to share: Postcard flyer CC

Summit Youth Track SUCCESS!!!

The Youth Track at this year’s Summit blew us away. Sure, we had high hopes for the almost thirty folks under the age of 25 who attended the Summit, but we were FLOORED by their dedication, passion, and innovation in creating a sustainable and inspiring direction for youth and young adult involvement in the Network, and in the health equity and tobacco control movements. This clip is the presentation by the youth track participants at the Summit closing (notice the standing ovation at the end!).

What is your vision of a world with health equity?

Meredith Kamradt

Guest Blogger writing from the National Conference on Tobacco or Health (NCTOH)

Day 3 in Kansas City and Day 2 of the NCTOH started with some unexpected chills running down my arms.  And no, I haven’t caught the virus of death!

As I was finishing my cup of coffee this morning in the plenary session, Dr. Adewale Troutman took the stage as the last speaker.  A tough task, as anyone who has tried to keep the attention of a room of hundreds of people after an hour and a half of lectures can tell you.  But Dr. Troutman did just that and more.  So, before the inspiration I felt this morning begins to fade I wanted to get it on the screen.  Then I promise I’ll return to the Summit and smaller NCTOH sessions!

Dr. Troutman spoke of many things, including the equivalence of social policy and health policy and his rejection of the discussion of health disparities for one of health equity and inequity.  But the one that I wrote down and circled several times in my notebook was the question – “What is your vision of a world with health equity?”

This was the question that immediately gave me chills because so often in public health we focus on categories, difference, and disparities.  We focus on collecting data on what is wrong, with who, and how the strategies we need to use are different for each of these social, cultural, economic,and other differential groups.  We fight with legislators, organizations, and individuals to right the wrongs of history and past unequal treatment.  And yes, these are all important steps to getting to our desired future.

Yet we so often forget to stop and imagine the big picture – how the world we want actually looks!  How will we behave?  What rights will we demand in our government?  What role does each of us have in working towards that world, even in our every day lives?  And as Dr. Troutmann pointed out, there are countries that have officially worked towards imagining and documenting this!  In Ecuador, their constitution (at least in writing) expresses their citizens’ right to health as guaranteed by the government!

So as I attend sessions for the next few days, have conversations with colleagues, and reflect on the experience here, I want to keep in mind the bigger question of my vision for a world with health equity.

What’s yours?

Closing Gaps in Healthcare for Our Community: Op-Ed on IOM Report on LGBT Health

by Scout, PhD
Network Director
 
Op-ed by Scout Crossposted from the Washington Blade: “Closing Gaps in Healthcare for Our Community“, March 31, 2011

“Don’t ever call an ambulance for me. I don’t care if I get hit by a car, let me die on the street. Just do not call an ambulance,” Arlene admonished me. I’d heard the horror story about the last time she went to a hospital so I couldn’t really blame her, but still, it was sad. No one should fear the medical system. But Arlene, like many other transgender people, has a learned and warranted fear of the medical system. Yet fear of the medical system isn’t the only problem out there.

As a cultural competency trainer, I know the stats all too well. Doctors and nurses feel free to openly express their personal disdain for LGBT people. Far from being a helping profession for us, accessing healthcare can be a minefield where political ideologies and personal prejudices trump the Hippocratic oath.

And while discrimination can be deadly, it is the more often the widespread ignorance that more often hurts us. Does a doctor know how to prescribe hormones for a transgender person? Have intake forms that don’t alienate LGBT people by asking about marriage? Have trained front-line staff who know to treat all with respect? Do the staff understand what health problems are more common for LGBT people? Do health care providers understand how to talk to us without stumbling and steering awkwardly clear of any issues of sexual orientation or gender identity? Lots of questions. And our community deserves not answers but solutions.

Well, I’m happy to say that this week the federal government made a major stride in both acknowledging and prioritizing LGBT health disparities. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services released the historic Institute of Medicine Report on LGBT Health. The Institute of Medicine imprimatur carries the highest regard among health professionals, so the mere existence of this report is a great step forward in prioritizing our health disparities. The report reviews the highest level of science available about our health disparities and makes strong suggestions for action at every level.

One of the most important suggestions is the simplest, count us. When the Census or health surveys don’t ask who is LGBT, it’s like locking us in the closet. It effectively hides our lives and all evidence of the disparities we struggle against. This is one simple step that LGBT advocates have been asking for ages and it is too long overdue.

I applaud the National Institutes of Health for commissioning this prestigious and comprehensive study, for not leaving transgender people behind, for taking due care to ferret out as much information as possible on LGBT communities of color. Each of these actions is a great stride. As the director of the Network for LGBT Health Equity I’ve been advocating for LGBT inclusion in health policy for many years, so trust me when I say, this is a truly historic moment.

But there is much to do. I think of my vulnerable young queer nephew and cousin. I don’t want them to take the path I did, and try to commit suicide. But I can see their isolation, I know how they struggle to find people who accept them. It’s going to take a lot to change their reality. So, at the end of the day we must remember this Institute of Medicine Report on LGBT health is just a book. The real change will come when federal officials, policymakers and medical providers take this book off their shelf and turn it into action. Action that cannot come a moment too soon.

Scout is the director of the Network for LGBT Health Equity at The Fenway Institute. A longtime LGBT activist, Scout is an openly transgender person living in a small town in Rhode Island and struggling to get his three kids through the trials of being a teenager.

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2011 National LGBTI Health Summit in Indiana: Call for Abstracts

Dear Colleagues,

Indiana University Health Bloomington and the Local Steering committee of the 2011 National LGBTI Health Summit are proud to announce our call for abstracts. Abstracts may be submitted at http://www.nationallgbtihealthsummit.com/abstractsub.html until April 15th, 2011.

We invite you to spend a few days in Bloomington working intensively with colleagues from all over the nation and world who are grappling with similar challenges, and engage in deep thinking and extended discussion about innovative programming related to the theme of “LGBTI Health: At the Crossroads.” We welcome presentations from diverse health care disciplines, community members, and anyone with a vested interest in addressing LGBTI health discrepancies. Based on the content of the abstracts accepted for workshop presentations, the workshop will be organized into tracks.

Workshop tracks/themes may include:

  • Mental health care
  • Health disparities by age
  • Health disparities by race or ethnicity
  • Health disparities by sex or gender
  • Health disparities by sexual orientation
  • Substance abuse
  • Policy/Health care reform
  • HIV/AIDS
  • And more.

The 2011 National LGBTI Health Summit will be held in Bloomington, Indiana on July 16-19, 2011 at the Indiana Memorial Union on the campus of Indiana University. We would like to invite all members of the LGBTI Community and their allies to join us in beautiful, Bloomington, Indiana. Please feel free to forward this message!

Patrick Battani

2011 National LGBTI Health Summit