Tag Archives: gay

President Obama Wants Conversion Therapy Banned

Transgender 17-year-old Leelah Alcorn wrote in her suicide note that one of the ways her family rejected her was by forcing her to see “Christian therapists.”  These therapists told her that she was selfish and wrong, and should look to God for help. Soon after her suicide, a White House petition was started, calling for “Leelah’s Law,”  which would ban all forms of the cruel ex-transgender and ex-gay conversion therapies.

Recently, the White House responded to the petition in agreement that conversion therapy should be banned.  Valerie Jarrett, White House Senior Advisor, said, “The overwhelming scientific evidence demonstrates that conversion therapy, especially when it is practiced on young people, is neither medically nor ethically appropriate and can cause substantial harm.”  She added, “As part of our dedication to protecting America’s youth, this Administration supports efforts to ban the use of conversion therapy for minors.”

President Obama Wants Conversion Therapy Banned

Jarrett believes that even with the best intentions, families can cause harm to their children who are LGBTQ. She said, “Countless families and guardians across the country proudly support their LGBTQ+ children. Too many LGBTQ+ youth, however, lack this support system, which can have devastating consequences. Negative family reactions to LGBTQ+ youth can be perceived as rejection by children, often contributing to serious health issues and inhibiting a child’s development and well-being. And when it comes to LGBTQ+ youth, some actions by family and caregivers can be harmful, despite even the best intentions.”

This year, Republican lawmakers have defeated several legislative bans that were pending in various states; some are still pending. Currently, only California, New Jersey, and Washington, DC have banned conversion therapy for minors. According to Jarrett, a national ban would require congressional action. But, she said: “We’re hopeful that the clarity of the evidence combined with the action taken by the states will lead to broader action that the administration would support.”

Jarrett stated in an interview with the New York Times that Obama was incredibly moved by Alcorn’s story and added that it’s not a unique experience: “It’s not the story of one young person,” she said. “It is the story of countless young people who have been subjected to this.”

New Jersey Schools Still No Stranger to Gay Hate

Now, with social media, it is easier than ever to discover the views and routines of the people that we work with through websites like Facebook where one can “like” a post and have it show up in the newsfeeds of friends and even friends of friends. Of course the downside of this is that private opinion can quickly become public. Such was the case when Reverend Warren Hall, one of the directors at Seton Hall University in New Jersey “liked” a gay equality “No H8” photo on facebook.

Reverend Warren Hall claims that the facebook post cost him his job. Seton Hall University declines to comment on the incident, but the Reverend states that the incident is reason to address the issue of LGBT rights more frequently among religious organizations. The anti-gay Facebook comments that were allegedly made by a High School teacher earlier this year leads one to wonder if the New Jersey School system needs to address LGBT issues more frequently. New Jersey Human Rights laws do prohibit bullying and discrimination in schools, but the failure of the state to fire teachers such as Knox that make anti-gay remarks in the name of free speech smacks of an ineptitude for truly resolving LGBT rights issues.

New Jersey Schools Still No Stranger to Gay Hate

The real issue here is not just one of privacy and discrimination. The mood of a nation is being threatened by a stigma, and it’s this same stigma that prevents LGBT youths and young adults from seeking the health counseling that they need. The failure of the education system to address LGBT sexual health and relationships is perhaps the biggest obstacle in the fight against the spread of STDs, so it is important that people in communities where injustices like this occur raise their voices.

If you are interested in becoming more involved in your community’s awareness of LGBT issues the website http://www.lgbtcenters.org/ has local directories.

Gay Men “Serosort” to Prevent Contracting HIV

One study in Seattle showed that approximately 40 % of men who are HIV negative make sure to only have sex with others who share their serostatus in order to attempt to prevent contracting the virus. A similar German study found that 10 percent of HIV positive gay men believe they are noninfectious if they have a viral load that is undetectable. Both studies’s results were presented at the Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections (CROI) in Boston.

In Seattle, two different questionnaires that included 1902 gay men accessing an HIV/ STI clinic between February and August of 2013,  were conducted by researchers.  The first one asked questions about their recent sexual behavior.  For example, the HIV status of their partners, what role they played during sex, whether they use condoms, and other topics were brought up. The second questionnaire asked about what they did to reduce their risk of HIV.

Both questionnaires were completed by a total of 964 people, including 835 (87%) who were HIV negative and 129 (13%) who were HIV positive. Forty-two percent of HIV negative men were strict serosorters; they reported to only have sex with other HIV negative men (with or without a condom). Thirty-nine percent of these men said this was a deliberate strategy. A total of 6.5% practiced condom serosorting, which means they only  reported  having sex without a condom with other HIV negative men. 5.2% said this was deliberate. Lastly, 7.1 % were seropositioning, which means they only had condomless sex if they were the top, no matter their partner’s HIV status; 6.5% said this was a strategy.

Gay Men "Serosort" to Prevent Contracting HIV

Thirty-two percent of HIV positive men were strict serosorters, 25% of them doing this deliberately. Eleven percent engaged in condom serosorting and 10% in seropositioning.

In the German study presented at CROI, researchers asked 269 gay men who were HIV positive about whether they thought they could infect somebody if they had a viral load that was undetectable.  Ten percent of this group thought they were noninfectious, with a fully suppressed virus and they held this belief when making choices about sex.  Of these viral sorters, 57.5 %  reported condomless sex,  compared with 36% of men who were not viral sorters. Nineteen percent of the viral sorters said that recently they told someone about their status, while 22 % had not discussed HIV recently at all.  On these two counts, the respective figures for the rest of the men were 42% and 44%.

6 Major Reasons We Need to Rethink HIV Prevention

Many HIV prevention campaigns rely on appealing to our emotions, but are not taking a good look at the HIV research and information available. Read on to see why we should rethink HIV prevention.

60 Percent of young people with HIV do not know their status
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), 60 percent of young individuals have no idea that they have HIV. Some men and women who are HIV negative think that it is too big of a risk to be with someone who discloses that they are HIV positive, yet they might go on to have sex with someone who believes they’re HIV negative, but hasn’t been tested to verify. Those undiagnosed carry a higher viral load than those who are aware of their status and on treatment.

91 percent of new HIV transmission happen by those who are not diagnosed or haven’t been treated
This statistic comes from a new study released by JAMA Internal Medicine. In 2009, there were more than 1.1 million people living with HIV; of these people 207,600 were undiagnosed and 519,414 knew they were HIV positive, but were not receiving medical care. In comparison to those who were undiagnosed, those who knew about their status, yet not receiving medical care were 19 percent less likely to transmit the virus.

6 Major Reasons We Need to Rethink HIV Prevention

Those who are HIV positive and receiving antiretroviral therapy (ART) who have achieved an undetectable viral load are 96 percent less likely to spread HIV
There hasn’t been a reported case of anyone living with the virus with an undetectable viral load who has transmitted the virus.

Truvada has been shown to reduce HIV transmission by 96 – 99 percent, when used daily
One new study also shows when PrEP is used as needed (a user taking Truvada 2-24 hours before sex and one pill 24 and 48 hours after) has shown to be 86 percent effective in preventing HIV. With all that’s available–TasP, PrEP and condom use, there seems to be much less of a reason to fear sex with someone with someone of opposite HIV status. Be open and honest with your partner.

Three out of 10 in the US have their virus under control
The care continuum, which is also known as the HIV treatment cascade, showed that even though 86 percent of people living with HIV were diagnosed, only 30 percent of them had  an undetectable viral load. The majority of those living with HIV know they have it, but are either too scared or unable to do what is needed to control it.

You can expect to live an additional 51 years if you’re newly diagnosed in your 20’s
That is, if you enter proper treatment. This is roughly the same number of years as a person without HIV would live. Many need only take one pill each day to manage HIV. Of course, there are mental and emotional health issues to treat as well.

Doctors Need to Initiate Communication with LGBTQ Patients

LGBTQ patients are faced with a variety of health obstacles.

Within the community are high rates of substance abuse and suicide. Men who have sex with men (MSM) make up the majority of new cases of HIV. In order to narrow and eventually close the health gaps between LGBTQ patients and those who are straight, doctors need to talk about sexual orientation and gender identity with their patients.

Dr. Harvey Makadon, director of the National LGBT Health Education Center at the Fenway Institute in Boston said that few physicians talk to patients about sexual behavior, desires and issues of identity.

It’s important for doctors to speak up about sexual orientation and gender identity with patients. It’s a huge part of one’s life and certain issues need to be addressed that affect both mental and physical health. Doctors are potentially missing some of the big issues. Those in the transgender community are of particular concern. Statistics in the community are unsettling. Transgender individuals suffer high rates of poverty, crime and STDs. Almost one-third of transgender women have HIV. According to Makadon, that’s a rate 49 percent higher than other adults of reproductive age.

Doctors Need to Initiate Communication with LGBTQ Patients

Physicians who are not afraid to treat transgender patients hold the key to preventing significant medical issues. It’s tricky because not all MSM identify as gay and some transgender people may have trouble defining gender clearly, particularly those who are younger and. It’s important for people to become comfortable and get to know LGBTQ people. It will allow individuals to feel at ease in seeking care.

Health issues may start early; children and teens struggle with sexuality. LGBTQ teens have a higher suicide rate than straight teens—two to three times higher, in fact. There are also issues with regard to lack of support systems, as many of them have faced parental rejection. This often leads to homelessness, which leads to risky behaviors that include drug and alcohol abuse and sex work. Transgender and gay minorities face rates of HIV infection that are even higher.

Makadon says, “Most people who I’ve had this discussion with say that the duty to care for everybody has to outweigh personal values. For people who continue to feel too conflicted, they probably shouldn’t continue to be in a caring profession. That may sound harsh, but I do think it’s a reality that if we do provide healthcare that we have to provide healthcare for everybody.

Eating Disorders a Significant Problem in the LGBT Community

Numerous findings from the National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA) have been gathered about eating disorders in the LGBT population.

Unfortunately, eating disorders are a problem with individuals in general. In the US, 20 million women are affected and 10 million men. In the LGBT community, a reported 15 percent of gay and bisexual men reported having some type of eating disorder in their life compared to 4.6 percent of heterosexual men. A survey showed that gay men were seven times more likely to binge and 12 times more likely to purge than heterosexual men. In the LGBT adolescent group, gay and bisexual individuals were much more likely to have gone on a fast, vomited or purged in another way, than heterosexuals reported.

Eating Disorders a Significant Problem in the LGBT Community

According to the research, lesbian women appeared to be the most satisfied with their bodies overall, but they, along with bisexual females, were at more of a binge-eating risk than heterosexual women, at approximately twice the rate. Lesbian and bisexual girls were also shown to have higher rates of laxative use and purging, or vomiting than heterosexual girls. No matter their sex, those identifying as LGBTQ were more likely to have disordered eating habits or an eating disorder than their heterosexual peers. It was not unusual for LGBT teens to have disordered eating habits when they were as young as 12.

There are some issues that may explain this big difference in eating disorders in the LGBT population, with teens in particular, including:

  • Internalization of negative thoughts and messages about gender identity or expression, or sexual orientation
  • Fears about rejection and coming out
  • Having previous traumatic experiences related to sexual orientation
  • Past experiences with discrimination or bullying

There are a lot of myths and misconceptions associated with eating disorders. For example, many people don’t think they affect men or they believe eating disorders to be lifestyle choices, not illnesses. It’s important to spread awareness of the actual truth.  There is help available and everyone should feel safe seeking treatment.

LGBT Medical Students Fear Revealing Sexual Identity

New research shows that approximately one-third of LGBT medical students do not come out of the closet due to fear of discrimination, according to a study by Stanford University School of Medicine researchers. This online survey,  published Feb. 18 in the journal Academic Medicine, included nearly 1,000 LGBT respondents and was sent to every medical student in the US and Canada during the academic period of 2009-2010. Out of those who identified as being in the LGBT group, 30 percent said they did not reveal their sexual identity while in medical school.

The primary reason for keeping this aspect of themselves private was because they feared discrimination (which was reported by 40 percent of this group). Additional reasons included social pressure, lack of support from family or peers, and a belief that it wasn’t anyone else’s business.  Research from the study also showed that two-thirds of students did not identify as either male or female, but as something other than those two genders, and they concealed their gender at medical school.

LGBT Medical Students Fear Revealing Sexual Identity

Matthew Mansh, author of the study and fourth-year medical student who says he’s been openly gay since age 17 remarked that he often didn’t go out of his way to mention that he was gay for reasons similar to what the study’s respondents reported, particularly during his clinical years. He said, “A lot of grading in medical school is very subjective. I have met physicians who make sexist or homophobic remarks, and it makes you not want to come out. You don’t want your personal identity to affect your grade”.

Dr. Mitchell Lunn, co-founder of the Stanford Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Medical Education Research Group,  and study co-author said: “There is still this huge percentage of medical students who are afraid of discrimination in medical school and how it could affect the rest of their careers.” He remarked that they’re supposed to be part of a field that accepts and takes care of people regardless of their differences, yet that is not happening for those who are part of their own community. The study authors suggest that there is a need for doctors to be leaders in encouraging more inclusion and diversity in medicine.

Understanding Anal Cancer Screenings

It is a rare disease, but anal cancer does exist and deserves our attention.

The cases of anal cancer are a lot more prevalent in gay and bisexual men or, “men who have sex with men” (MSM).  Unfortunately, most MSM’s have not been tested or know that any screenings are out there, and do not know much, if anything about anal cancer. Medical professionals are actually divided on whether they should even screen for it and how they would do so. Currently, there isn’t any standardized protocol for anal cancer screening.

Facts about anal cancer:

  • Anal cancer is diagnosed in approximately two out of every 100,000 people in the general population every year.
  • MSMs who are HIV negative are 20 times more likely to receive an anal cancer diagnosis (about 40 per 100,000 people)
  • MSMs who are HIV positive are up to 40 times more likely to receive this diagnosis (about 80 per 100,000 people)
  • The same strains of Human Papillomavirus (HPV) that cause cervical cancer in women also cause anal cancer
  • In MSMs, HPV is transmitted through both protected and unprotected anal intercourse and skin-to-skin contact. HPV is very common– approximately 75 percent of all sexually active adults acquire HPV; not all HPV infections lead to cancer.

Understanding Anal Cancer Screenings

A number of men don’t have any apparent symptoms of HPV, but possible symptoms include:

  • Genital warts affecting the anus, penis and/or peritoneum
  • Abnormal discharge from the anus
  • Bleeding from the anus and rectum
  • Itching of the anus; pain or pressure around the anus
  • A sore or sores that do not heal, around the anus

Since the cervix and anus are similar, biologically, and both are target areas for HPV infection, a pap smear can be used test the anus for pre-cancerous cell changes and cancer.  More and more health activists and gay physicians believe this procedure could reduce the incidence of anal cancer as significantly as it has with cervical cancer in women.

It is recommended by them that all MSMs, especially those who are HIV positive, receive testing every 1 to 3 years, depending on their CD4 count and immunology wellbeing.  Their recommendation for HIV negative MSMs is for testing every 3 years.  Other physicians don’t believe all MSMs need to be tested due to the small number of cases, facility shortages for follow-up procedures, and the cost, pain and fear of looking at small changes in cells (dysplasia). In addition, the number of insurance policies that would cover pap smears for the anus is low.

Even though the AIDS Institute of New York recommends that HIV positive gay men “and others with history of HPV disease” be tested annually, there appears to be little agreement about the importance and practicality of offering all MSM clients this testing.

 

Is Party and Play (PnP) a Dangerous Rite of Passage?

The term “party and play” (PnP) is commonly used in the gay scene.

This refers to any type of drug used during sex between those of all sexual orientations. Usually crystal meth is the drug of choice.  PnP can either be experienced through one-on-one sex or group sex. PnP might and occur for a few reasons:

  • It’s often difficult for young, gay men to meet others in mainstream situations.
  • It’s easier for gay men to use social media, gay bars, gay dating sites and chat rooms to meet sex partners.
  • Drugs are more accessible in these specific settings.
  • Drug use is more closely connected to casual sex, as inhibitions are lowered.

Is Party and Play (PnP) a Dangerous Rite of Passage?

Gay men may feel more physically comfortable engaging in sex when they’re at a place they feel relaxed.  The option to take erectile dysfunction drugs at these parties is another appeal as well as drugs making it easier to feel okay to bareback (have sex without a condom).  Those looking for a PnP atmosphere are at a greater risk of contracting HIV.  It is widely known and documented that HIV rates among gay men have increased greatly over the past decade, since the meth epidemic.

Unfortunately, there are some gay men, particularly the younger crowd, who believe that participating in PnP is necessary to be let into the “gay scene”.  This is not true.  There are many gay men who do not use drugs and who are not interested in engaging in unprotected sex.  Anal sex isn’t even necessarily a type of sex that all gay men have, with or without drugs.

There are many stereotypes that are untrue.  Many young, gay men give in to a pressure that says otherwise. This perpetuates a stigma towards gay men in general, passing them off as only interested in non-committed relationships and drug-fueled sex.

It’s important to remember that certain sexual situations are not exclusive to any one group, including gay men.  They might be related to other issues such as sex and/or drug addictions.

Saying Goodbye to Lesbian Bed Death

Sometimes when a couple has been together for a long time, sex isn’t the main priority for them, or one person in the relationship isn’t as into it.  Regarding lesbian relationships, this has been called “Lesbian Bed Death” (LBD).

Just like any other type of couple, a lesbian couple might find that they’re not as passionate as they were when they first met.  Even though this a common occurrence for those who’ve been together long-term, it is a hot topic in the LGBT community.  This issue can be worked on if both partners in the relationship are willing to give it a shot. Read on for some ideas you can use to spice up your sex life and put LBD behind you.

Reintroduce romance to the relationship
It’s easy enough to take your partner for granted when you’ve been together for awhile. You’re both most likely very busy, juggling work and family life. See what happens when you start to surprise your partner with tickets to a movie they want to see or some flowers. Whatever you know will make them smile.

Spend some time on your own
Have your own life and social circle. Maybe take up a new hobby or join a group with similar interests. A little time away from each other now and then will make you appreciate each other more.

Saying Goodbye to Lesbian Bed Death

Go ahead and have sex
There’s always an excuse to not have time for something that seems like a luxury. Sex is an important part of an intimate relationship. Make it a priority and set aside time for quick, but passionate lovemaking during a break at work, or go on a mini vacation to a hotel, even near home.

Show affection toward each other
When you’re not being loving and affectionate (touching, cuddling, kissing, etc.), you might as well be housemates.  Long-term relationships need love and attention. Remember why you were so excited about your partner in the first place and go from there.