Sarah Spiegel, a third-year med student at New York Medical College, is pushing for more comprehensive LGBTI health training.
Tell me more!
After being disappointed in the brief information about LGBTI health given to her in her first year of med school, Spiegel decided to make a change.
By her second year, she became president of the school’s LGBT Advocacy in Medicine Club. Spiegel and a group of peers approached the administration about the lack of LGBTI content in the curriculum.
According to Spiegel, the administration was ‘amazingly receptive’ to the idea. Thus, the school went from an hour and half of LGBTI-focused content to seven hours. Spiegel does not think this change would have happened had the school’s LGBTI group not pushed for it.
Spiegel went on to join The American Medical Student Association’s Gender and Sexuality Committee as the LGBTQ Advocacy Coordinator. Her job in this role was to bring curricular change to other medical schools in the New York area.
Med schools and LGBTI health
Numerous studies have shown that medical schools do a poor job of training future doctors to understand the LGBTI population’s unique health needs. This is especially true when it comes to transgender and intersex people. A 2017 survey of students at Boston University School of Medicine found their knowledge of transgender and intersex health to be less than LGB health.
However, LGBTI people, especially transgender individuals, face a disproportionately high rate of mental illness, HIV, and other intersecting issues. A poll conducted by NPR found that 1 in 5 LGBTI adults have avoided medical care out of fear of discrimination.
‘The health of disparity populations is something that really should be the focus of health profession students,’ Dr. Madeline Deutsch, an associate professor at the University of California, San Francisco, tells NPR.
‘Sexual and gender minorities have historically been not viewed as a key population. That’s unfortunate because of the size of the population, and because of the extent of the disparities that the population faces.’
While the amount of time medical students spend on LGBTI-related issues varies, a 2011 study found the median amount of time spent on the topic was a mere five hours. Topics most frequently addressed were safe sex, sexual orientation, and gender identity. However, topics like gender transitioning weren’t often spoken of.
‘There’s not really a consistent curriculum that exists around this content,’ says Deutsch.
Activists doing the work
But with activists like Sarah Spiegel, LGBTI health is being spoken about more and more.
Written by: Rafaella Gunz. 20 January 2019. Gaystarnews.com
According to researchers from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) HIV people with an undetectable viral load cannot sexually transmit HIV. This is being backed by more than 300 health agencies from around the world.
The NIAID results were published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA).
In a statement, NIAID called evidence for Undetectable = Untransmittable ‘overwhelming’. Not only does getting those diagnosed with HIV on to Antiretroviral Therapy (ART) ensure their long-term health. But it also significantly reduces HIV transmission rates. This is because those with the virus suppressed in their body cannot pass it on.
The authors looked at over 77,000 examples of condom-less sex between male couples where one half of the couple(s) has HIV and the other did not. It showed that not a single transmission of the virus from the HIV positive person to the negative person.
NIAID did, however, stress that individuals with HIV should and must stick to their medication regimes, newly diagnosed individuals should be tested every 3-4 months for the first two years of treatment and once their viral levels remain suppress can extend testing to every six months.
They noted that adhering to medication was essential. ‘When ART is stopped, viral rebound usually occurs within 2 to 3 weeks.’
‘The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that of the individuals with HIV in the United States in HIV clinical care in 2015, approximately 20% had not achieved viral suppression at their last test.
‘CDC also noted that 40% of the individuals in HIV clinical care that same year did not maintain viral suppression for more than 12 months.’
They say lack of access to consistent healthcare, among other factors, can impact viral load.
‘In summary, even though the clinical data underpinning the concept of U = U have been accumulating for well over a decade, it is only recently that an overwhelming body of evidence has emerged to provide the firm basis to now accept this concept as scientifically sound.’
It says U=U has implications on prevention. There are also legal implications. Currently, more than 20 states in the US make it a crime for someone with HIV to have sex without informing their partner they have the virus.
They also think promoting the U=U message may remove, ‘the sense of fear and guilt that a person may be harming someone else, as well as the feeling of self-imposed and external stigma that many people with HIV experience.’
The Israel Medical Association has publicly banned its members from performing gay conversion therapy. Deeming it harmful and a debunked medical practice.
‘There is a special danger in referring children and teenagers to treatment meant to change one’s sexual orientation,’ the IMA said in a statement.
An expose in Ynet news revealed the ‘underground’ world of conversion therapy in Israel, especially amongst religious groups.
A complaint filed to the IMA’s Ethics Committee prompted the association’s review of its position on conversion therapy. The IMA acknowledged the psychological impact conversion therapy had on people.
‘A comprehensive review of studies and position papers from other organizations showed an agreement that there is no place for any treatment based on the assumption that homosexuality is a disease or a disorder that requires treatment,’ the IMA said.
‘The treatments to change one’s sexual orientation have been found to be ineffective and could cause mental damage, such as anxiety, depression and suicidal tendencies.’
Other associations to sign the IMA’s position paper on conversion therapy include: Israel Psychiatric Association, the Israeli Adolescent Medicine Society, the Israel Pediatric Association, the Society to Promote Health in the LGBT Community, the Israel Association of Family Physicians and the Israel Child and Adolescent Psychiatric Association.
LGBTI advocates in Israel welcomed the new position.
‘We felt that the medical associations in Israel had to make their stance clear. These important guidelines can save lives,’ Dr. Ruthi Gofen, co-founder of Gan Meir LGBT Center in Tel Aviv told Ynet.
Donald Trump has discharged two U.S. Air Force service members for testing positive for HIV.
The in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia the two airmen filed a federal lawsuit against Defense Secretary Jim Mattis. The claim the Pentagon’s decision to discharge them violates the Constitution of equal protection clause and federal law.
Washington Post reports:
Both active-duty airmen said they tested positive for HIV last year during Air Force screenings. After they started antiretroviral treatments, their doctors deemed them asymptomatic and physically fit to deploy, and their commanders backed their continued service. They intended to pursue lengthy Air Force careers after serving for more than half a decade in logistics and maintenance roles.
To rub salt in the wound the airmen were discharged just days before Christmas.
“It’s disgusting that the Trump Administration is sending some men and women in uniform home for the holidays without jobs simply because of their HIV status,” Scott Schoettes, Counsel and HIV Project Director at Lambda Legal, says.
“These decisions should be based on science, not stigma. Lambda Legal is suing to stop these separations and will keep fighting until President Trump understands that there’s not a job in the world a person living with HIV cannot safely perform, including the job of soldier.”
Trump’s “Deploy or Get Out!” policy went into effect October 1. It orders the Pentagon to deny people living with HIV from enlisting in the Armed Forces and deems current soldiers living with HIV “non-deployable” then orders the Pentagon to discharge anyone who cannot be deployed outside of the country for longer than 12 consecutive months.
“What we’re really asking for here is that HIV be treated the same as any other medical condition in terms of evaluating whether or not you can deploy with it,” Schoettes says. “It shouldn’t be carved out and specifically categorized as ‘you are non-deployable once you have this.’”
“It’s disheartening to say the least,” one of the airmen tells Washington Post. “I know for a fact that I am very good. I know I’m good at what I do, and I’m not being afforded the opportunity to give the Air Force what I know I’m capable of doing.”
A new study in the American Journal of Public Health has reported that teenagers are skewing results of LGBT research by providing bogus answers.
Economic professor Joseph R. Cimpian at New York University told The Daily Beast he noticed a high percentage of survey respondent reported being gay and blind.
“What we found is that ‘gay’ kids are way more likely to be blind and to be deaf and to have three or more children of their own and all sorts of things,” he explains. “When you look at these data, you think, ‘This is ridiculous!’”
Alternatively, these so-called “mischievous responders” would also report being extremely tall and/or eating carrots four or more times a day.
“Clearly the kids are messing with us,” Cimpian concludes.
The professor and his colleagues have been using machine learning and supercomputers to statistically filter out the mischievous responders — a majority of whom, unsurprisingly, are teenage boys.
The results of this process suggest the disparity between straight and queer teens’ excessive alcohol and drug use are “not as big as the literature previously would have suggested,” Cimpian reports.
But the hoodwinking hasn’t affected the statistics about bullying, depression, and suicidal ideation among LGBT teens. “It actually shows that [the LGBT mental health disparity] is a very robust finding,” Cimpian explained.
The “mischievous responders” issue is a big problem — especially because these surveys have been used to shape public policy — but Cimpian observes that it’s hard to get teens to take their role in the research seriously.
“A lot of times when I even talk to fellow faculty members about this, they say things like, ‘Oh, I would have been the kid that you would call a mischievous responder,’” he says.
Or, as The Daily Beast’s Samantha Allen writes, “The allure of depicting yourself as a 10,000-foot-tall, carrot-chomping, gay cocaine addict may, for some youth, be too great to resist.”
Scientists are speaking out against a directive by the Trump administration that has shut down research into a cure for HIV.
A scientist who was supposed to supply mice that have been modified with human fetal tissue for an HIV study emailed researchers that the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) “has directed me to discontinue procuring fetal tissue.”
“This effectively stops all of our research to discover a cure for HIV,” he wrote.
A “pause” on research that uses aborted fetal tissue, something Christian conservatives strongly oppose, was announced by the Trump administration this past September. The move will affect numerous biomedical research programs.
Congressional Republicans have tried to ban all fetal tissue research for years to appease the religious right. 85 Republican House members wrote a letter to the head of the FDA asking for a ban on fetal tissue research shortly before the “pause” was announced.
The ban has long been a goal of the anti-abortion industry and has been part of the most recent attacks on Planned Parenthood. The group was falsely accused of selling aborted fetuses earlier this year.
In a statement, the NIH said that there is only a “pause in place” on the research, which is “an action NIH thought was prudent given the examination of these procurements.”
“We were all poised to go and then the bombshell was dropped,” said Warner Greene, director of the Gladstone Center for HIV Cure Research. Greene was about to collaborate with the Montana lab on HIV research when the project came to a halt.
“The decision completely knocked our collaboration off the rails. We were devastated.”
The study would have relied on fetal tissue donated by women who have had legal abortions in order to produce “humanized mice,” mice that have human-like immune systems, according to Science. The mice have been used for years for research in infectious diseases, including HIV.
Mice are one of the few non-human animals that can be infected with HIV, which makes them key to testing HIV medication.
Researchers at the lab were going to test a promising antibody they developed to prevent HIV from developing reservoirs, which are cells infected with HIV but are not producing the virus. These cells aren’t affected by currently available HIV medication.
“You spend your life trying to do good experiments and organize your science carefully, and suddenly, at the whim of some politicians in Washington, D.C., they remove a critical piece of your scientific armamentarium,” Greene said.
On September 28, researcher Kim Hasenkrug, who was supposed to provide humanized mice for Greene’s study on the HIV antibody, sent an email to Greene explaining that HHS told them to stop using fetal tissue.
[HHS] has directed me to discontinue procuring fetal tissue from ABR, the only source for us. I think that they are the only provider of fetal tissue for scientists in the nation who don’t have direct access to aborted fetal tissue. This effectively stops all of our research to discover a cure for HIV.
“The mice were ready,” Greene said. “Just as we’d shipped antibody [to Montana], we were ready to go, and boom, the rug was pulled out from underneath us.”
It is unclear whether non-NIH labs that receive NIH funding will also be banned from using fetal tissue. If so, even more research will be affected.
“Everything I am doing involves humanized mice. It would shut my lab down if we were not able to use fetal tissues,” said Jerome Zack, who has used humanized mice for 25 years to study HIV at UCLA.
But Greene said that the NIH’s actions have already slowed down progress on a cure.
“If we were given the green light right now, it would probably take us a year to get back in the position we were in when the ban was put in place,” he said.
Earlier this year, the Department of Health and Human Services announced a new Conscience and Religious Freedom Division that would handle complaints from health care providers who did not want to take part in an abortion or treat transgender people.
Written by: Alex Bollinger. 10 December, 2018. LGBTQNation.com
The film Philadelphia marked a turning point in Hollywood history–the moment when mainstream movies could finally tackle the proverbial elephant in the room: AIDS. Said beast had long cast a shadow over Tinseltown when the movie finally hit cinemas in 1993. Celebrities like Rock Hudson had already died of the disease, and the Reagan & Bush White Houses had done their best to ignore the epidemic. It was the crime of the century, writing HIV/AIDS off as a “behavior-based” condition, which allowed it to become an international pandemic which actually hit many more straight people than gay men.
With Philadelphia, Hollywood joined the cry of the LGBTQ community for empathy, with major stars like Denzel Washington and Tom Hanks (who won his first Oscar) appearing in the movie, which became a major hit with audiences and changed the way many people thought about the disease.
Now Coca-Cola has partnered with the noted anti-AIDS charity (Red) to produce a new video recalling that pre-Philadelphia world, the impact of the film, and how American progress since Reagan (yes, even President George W. Bush became a champion in the fight) has helped stem the spread of HIV, especially in sub-Saharan Africa.
Featuring interviews with Hanks, Washington and co-star Mary Steenburgen, the emotional short film reminds viewers of one powerful truth: even in the most desperate of times, we can still find hope.
Written by: David Reddish
Health care experts have been informed of a US man contracting HIV despite being on PrEP. He’s thought to be the first man in California – and only the third in the US – to contract HIV while adhering to a daily PrEP regime.
PrEP is a medication that minimizes the chances of someone acquiring HIV, even if they do not use condoms.
News of the case was presented at the annual IDWeek conference in San Francisco, which concluded over the weekend. The conference is run by the Infectious Diseases Society of America.
The man was HIV negative when he began taking PrEP in San Francisco in late 2016. He continued to diagnose HIV negative when testing at three, six and ten months. Blood tests also demonstrated he continued to take his medication consistently.
HIV positive after being on PrEP for a year
After just over a year on PrEP, he received an HIV positive diagnosis in early 2018. He was immediately placed on HIV drugs and has maintained a suppressed viral load since that time.
Doctors were able to accurately diagnose the exact strain of HIV he picked up. It’s one identified with people who have taken HIV medication in the past but no longer take it. It was then revealed that the patient’s main male partner was HIV positive but no longer taking medication.
The partner was tested and found to have a high viral load of the resistant strain. He has resumed taking medication.
Researchers say it was the fact the patient came into contact with a resistant strain that led to him acquiring the virus. They believe he stuck to his PrEP regime well. They could tell this from analyzing his hair, which he happened to grow long.
Dr. Robert Grant, of the University of California San Francisco, said, ‘[The patient’s] long hair allowed us to test by centimeters, which allowed us to go back and read drug levels from six months ago.’
Previous cases of men becoming HIV positive while on PrEP
There have been five previous reports on men acquiring HIV while on Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP). The first two occurred in Toronto and New York in 2016. In 2017, there were three more cases. One involved a man in North Carolina, one in Australia, and a fifth a man in Amsterdam.
The first four cases are believed to be due to the person on PrEP having sex with someone with a high viral load of a rare, resistant strain of HIV.
The fifth case is not believed to be linked to a drug-resistant strain of HIV. The Amsterdam man had an ‘unusually high number’ of sexual partners – averaging 50-70 a month – and several other sexual infections. Researchers have speculated he may have repeatedly exposed himself to HIV, which took a hold in his body after a slight dip in Truvada levels.
‘Greater than 99% effective’
Health experts say despite these rare cases, PrEP remains highly effective. The medication is taken by more than 350,000 people worldwide.
Dr. Grant said, ‘We know PrEP is greater than 99% effective. There are some cases where HIV will break through. We only have a handful of cases now, and next year, we’ll probably have a handful more. Fortunately, these cases are caught early, treated, and suppressed quickly. The person goes from taking one pill a day to one pill a day. The biggest difference is the stigma.’
Matthew Hodson, Chief Executive of HIV information organization NAM, agrees. 'We estimate that PrEP is more than 99% effective at preventing HIV. By comparison, a recent meta-analysis of the efficacy of condoms found that they prevented nine out of ten cases, this was a better result than previous analyses.
‘PrEP is still better than condoms at preventing HIV. PrEP failure makes the news. Condom failure doesn’t.
He said that in the UK, 93% of people diagnosed with HIV have suppressed the virus to a point where it cannot be passed on ‘in any circumstance.’ This is regardless of whether it’s a drug-resistant strain or not.
‘It’s vital to acknowledge that PrEP, just like other safer sex strategies isn’t 100% effective. It is also vital not to let isolated cases obscure how effective it is. PrEP has played a significant role in bringing down new HIV infections in London, Sydney, New York, San Francisco and other cities around the world.’
H/T: The Body Pro
Source: Hudson, David. California man on PrEP medication acquires HIV.9 October 2018. Gay Star News.
The contagious and deadly bacteria Neisseria meningitis has been reported in Berlin. Considered one of the deadest, meningitis is spread through saliva and respiratory secretions. Authorities in Berlin are asking those who have visited KitkatClub nightclub to seek an immediate test for the bacterium.
A man who attended the “CameBall” on Saturday, September 29 has been hospitalized and is in critical conditions and at the current time is unable to describe his sexual contact at the event, so health officials are asking everyone who attended to get tested and vaccinated.
Deutsche Welle reports: “The bacteria strains A, C, Y and W135 are believed to have been possibly spread at the music-thumping Berlin institution, known for wild and raunchy sex acts being performed out in the open or in nooks and crannies…Common symptoms include severe headache, high fever, chills, dizziness, neck stiffness and extreme malaise. Within a few hours, a life-threatening infection can develop. The infection can be treated with antibiotics.”
Wrote Berlin officials: “All persons on KitKatClub on Saturday should seek preventative treatment immediately. Please contact your family doctor, your family doctor or the emergency department of a hospital immediately. On Saturday, 29.09.2018, there was, according to current knowledge, the transmission of bacterial meningitis (meningococcal meningitis) in KitKatClub in Köpenicker Straße 76, 10179 Berlin-Mitte. So far, it is known that the meningococci belong to one of the groups A, C, Y, W135. The infection takes place via liquids from the mouth and throat area. As a rule, this requires a very close contact. Preventive treatment usually consists of taking an antibiotic. Meningococcal meningitis is a serious disease. Common symptoms include severe headache, high fever, chills, dizziness, neck stiffness and extreme malaise. Within a few hours, a serious, life-threatening clinical picture can develop.”
Age is just a number… or is it?
A new survey conducted by Gay Star News that found that a whole lot of people are lying about their age on dating apps. Over 3,000 people participated in the survey, which was conducted earlier this month. One if four respondents admitted they had lied about their age at least once while chatting with a potential new hookup.
Among those people who say they’ve been dishonest on their quests to get laid:
The answer is pretty simple: Agism.
When asked about agism, 60% of respondents said their experience of dating was “totally” ageist, compared to 16% who said the scene was a “little” ageist, and 6% who said it was “maybe” ageist.
Many respondents also expressed fear about getting older. 31% said they were terrified about losing their looks, while 42% said they worried about losing their partner or loved ones.
Let’s be honest about this. It is no secret that some (most) gay men will lie about their age. We live in an age, body-obsessed culture. So, when you turn a certain age you are no longer considered good looking or “hot”.