Pride · social media · Tobacco Policy · Uncategorized

New Tips From Former Smokers Ad Features Effects of Tobacco & HIV

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     Felecia King

    Project Specialist

   The Network for LGBT Health Equity

 
 

This week, the CDC launched the next phase of the Tips From Former Smokers Campaign, and this time they are tackling the issue of tobacco and HIV. The ad features Brian, who smoked for 30 years, and suffered a stroke as a complication of his HIV and tobacco use. (read more about Brian’s story HERE)

Smoking is especially harmful to people who are living with HIV. For example, smokers with HIV:

  • Are at higher risk than non-smokers with HIV of developing lung cancer, head and neck cancers, cervical and anal cancers, and other cancers;
  • Are more likely than non-smokers with HIV to develop bacterial pneumonia, Pneumocystis jiroveci pneumonia (PCP), COPD, and heart disease;
  • Are more likely than non-smokers with HIV to develop two conditions that affect the mouth: oral candidiasis (thrush) and oral hairy leukoplakia; and
  • Have a poorer response to antiretroviral therapy.
  • People with HIV who smoke are also less likely to keep to their HIV treatment plan and have a greater likelihood of developing an AIDS-defining condition and dying earlier than non-smokers with HIV.

(the above examples are from Aids.gov <– Click the link for more info!)

For these reasons, smoking is a significant health issue for all individuals, but it is even more of a concern for people living with HIV, who tend to smoke more than the general population. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), approximately 19% of adults in the United States are smokers. However, the smoking rate is two to three times higher among adults who are HIV-positive.

 

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Huffington Post LGBT Wellness

Honestly, Signing up for Obamacare Was Hard but Worth It

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 It’s a bit embarrassing to admit how difficult it was to sign up for health insurance on the new exchanges. As a public health professional who’s trying hard to spread the word that people need to #GetCovered, I was trying to studiously ignore how every time I called there was some problem in signing up. Ultimately, it seemed to be related to my name change. Maybe it was more complicated because I only have a single name? I just hope every trans person doesn’t have to go through some of the hoops I did in proving they are U.S. citizens, because I know it delayed my enrollment by months.

One of the myths about these health insurance exchanges is they are only for the uninsured among us, or only for low-income folk. Actually the exchanges offer a chance of better health insurance for many of us. For example, I was already enrolled in health insurance, but to my dismay it didn’t cover any testosterone, which left me skipping some months then finally shelling out $400/month through clenched teeth. Plus, my health insurance didn’t include dental coverage, so I carefully unclenched those teeth again.

To be honest, I had to call the Rhode Island health insurance exchange probably eight times. First there was the complication of not living in the same state as my partner. While some private insurance plans would cover us both, the exchanges wouldn’t. Then they asked me to send in my drivers license and social security card to prove I was a citizen. So I scanned and uploaded them to the site then I waited for some notice it was ok to proceed… and crickets. It’s easy to put off enrolling like it’s easy to put off writing a will. Nothing bad is going on now, right? With three teenagers and a busy job, I had lots of other things competing for my attention. But once a month, as I shelled out that $400 for hormones, I kept remembering that maybe that insurance exchange could do this better?

So I called back and filled out more of the application with the friendly person on the line. But now they needed to know how much my kids’ health insurance premiums were. Really? I am not the parent who pays them, so why did it matter? It stopped me again, until that $400 payment came again and I was motivated to track down the info and called back. This time, they needed even more information about my name change. I was definitely trying hard not to curse the insurance exchanges at this point. Remember, the party line is #GetCovered. Repeat until you believe it. Or better yet, go back and watch the hilarious SNL skit on the early website problems. I’ve watched it so many times now I can do a fair impersonation of their Sebelius impersonator.

Ultimately, it was the coming deadline which moved me off my duff again. If people don’t get enrolled by March 31st, it’s see ya later until next year’s open enrollment period. So, I found my birth certificate, my legal name change document and uploaded them to the site. And voila — they finally admitted I was a U.S. citizen. I could choose a plan!

But wait, the runaround stop didn’t stop there. I wasn’t going to sign up for another plan that didn’t include hormones. Plus, I needed to make sure my trans-friendly doc was in their plan. That took four more confusing calls, this time to Blue Cross. But everything was included. And I was going to get sweet dental coverage for the whole family too, including 50 percent of my kids’ braces costs. I signed up like lightning.

I can’t lie; it was a total hassle for me to sign up and it could be for you too, but trust me it’s worth the hassle. I was cursing the insurance exchanges before but now I say bring on the new coverage as fast as it can come. Remember, we’ve only got until March 31st to sign up so spread the word. Visit Out2Enroll for more information and find more social media friendly images on the CenterLink Network for LGBT Health Equity blog here.

——

Dr. Scout, Director

The Network for LGBT Health Equity

As published on Huffington Post’s new LGBT Wellness blog, see original at: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/scout-phd/obamacare-enroll-health-insurance-exchange_b_4961096.html?utm_hp_ref=lgbt-wellness

 
Follow Scout, Ph.D. on Twitter: www.twitter.com/scoutout
Uncategorized

HHS LGBT Listening Session Report Out From Cancer Network

Liz Margolies

By: Liz Margolies, L.C.S.W.

Most of the time I have to force people to listen to my opinions on what would fix the cancer health disparities in the LGBT community. So, imagine my delight in being invited to speak my mind to high up officials at The Department of Health and Human Services in Washington DC.  It was worth rising early and dressing nicely, two things I usually grouse about.  I prepared remarks that would best represent the values of CenterLink’s Network for LGBT Health Equity and the National LGBT Cancer Network.

In addition to HHS Secretary, Kathleen Sebelius, the head of the table also held Cathy Greenlee, Ken Choe and Howard Koh, the co-chairs of the LGBT Coordinating Commitee at HHS.  Around the other three sides were representatives of about 20 LGBT health organizations, including GLAMA’s Hector Vargas, HRC’s Shane Snowdon, Fenway’s Sean Cahill and, of course, Scout.  We listened attentively to the Secretary’s report of LGBT accomplishments and wishes, and then we went around the room and said what mattered to us and the people our organizations serve.

I said, “My organization addresses LGBT health disparities across the Cancer continuum, but today I want to focus on survivorship.  We conducted a national survey of LGBT cancer survivors and the level of discrimination they reported in their cancer treatment was shocking and disturbing. Some changed doctors, but many could not, either because their health insurance didn’t allow it or because there were no other treatment options where they lived.  Some people went back into the closet during treatment, fearing that discrimination could compromise their treatment from a life threatening illness.  Some transgender people were denied their hormones while they were in the hospital.  This is terrible because we know for sure  that one’s experience of healthcare has a profound impact on recovery and health.

We need research on LGBT cancer and it needs to be funded by PCORI and NCI.  My quick search found only 13 funded studies!  And another mere 25 studies on tobacco, even as we know that tobacco is the largest preventable cause of cancer!

And one more request: while research shows that LGBT people use tobacco at rates that are 68% higher than the national average, without including gender identity and sexual orientation in the SEER data, we can’t say with certainty that we have even one more case of lung cancer in LGBT people.”

I sat back in my chair. And gave the floor to Scout.

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LGBT Policy · Presentations · Research Studies · Resources · Technical Assistance · Tobacco Policy

Tobacco Control In LGBT Communities: A journey through this valuable report

As I am sure you are aware on Tuesday Legacy released a new report: Tobacco Control In LGBT Communities. This report is another to hit the national stage to address the growing concern of tobacco use and the affect it has on LGBT people. The layout of this report is quite nice, first addressing Legacy’s role in the movement, but more importantly highlighting the prevalence rates, and the fact data collection efforts needs to continue so we can monitor tobacco use in our communities.fthfthutyu

While there are a lot of numbers folks who appreciate the data, sometimes the data does not truly share the full story. The report has a great section, Behind the Numbers: Tobacco and LGBT Communities. Which paints the story of why tobacco use is and continues to be an issues among our communities. It looks at Social Stigma and Smoking, the Bar and Club Culture, addressing health care disparities and the lack of access to health care our communities face. In addition they showcase tobacco industry targeting, and how smoking is normalized in our community in such a way that it has truly infiltrated our lives and LGBT culture overall. Additionally it goes in to the efforts the tobacco industry took in co-opting our community, and how tobacco companies were characterized as pioneers who stood in solidarity with our communities which is such a fascinating read.

We all know that there is a long standing history of LGBT people and tobacco. The report addresses some key points on what needs to be done moving forward with a set of actions public health and tobacco control organizations can take to counter tobacco in our communities:

  • Engage directly with the LGBT community to offer cessation and prevention services that are culturally competent.
  • Include questions on sexual orientation and gender identity in population-based studies and surveys of health status.
  • Develop better and more standardized questions about sexual orientation and gender identity so a better picture of LGBT populations can be drawn.
  • Conduct longitudinal cohort studies, which follow participants over long periods of time.
  • Include, at all levels, LGBT people in mainstream tobacco control efforts.
  • Develop tobacco control media campaigns targeting LGBT communities.
  • Help LGBT communities and organizations find alternatives to tobacco industry funding.
  • Include LGBT youth in all levels of tobacco control efforts.
  • Ensure that the leadership of LGBT tobacco control efforts represents all LGBT communities, including traditionally disenfranchised segments such as transgender people, lesbian and bisexual women, people of color, LGBT youth, and LGBT people of lower socioeconomic status.

In the second part of this report it showcases four case studies of past legacy grantees. Leave no Funds Behind, which was a project the Network created working on Bridging the Gap Between LGBT Organizations and Tobacco Control Funding. As well as, Delicious Lesbian Kisses: A Social Marketing Campaign with Staying Power, Crush: The LGBT Lifestyle Project, and 30 Seconds: Helping Health Care Providers Reach LGBT Tobacco Users were all highlighted.

I highly recommend you take a look at this report, and share both the report and the factsheet created by legacy:

Tobacco Control In LGBT Communities Report

Tobacco Fact Sheet: Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (Lgbt) communities and smoking