Category Archives: Health Alerts

HHS rule encourages discrimination and endangers LGBTQ health

A message from the Gay and Lesbian Medical Association

Earlier today the Department of Health and Human Services released a final rule that eliminates federal regulations ensuring nondiscrimination in healthcare for transgender people and LGB people, people who are pregnant or seeking an abortion, those who require healthcare services in a language other than English, and other marginalized communities. In its announcement, HHS noted it was “restoring the rule of law” by interpreting sex discrimination “according to the plain meaning of the word ‘sex’ as male or female and as determined by biology.”

GLMA President Scott Nass, MD, MPA, issued the following statement in response:

“It is unconscionable that the Administration would take this action to encourage and promote discrimination during a pandemic that is already severely impacting vulnerable communities, including LGBTQ people. The fear of discrimination can have very real health consequences, especially in a public health crisis. These discriminatory measures are not only cruel, they also undermine public health and will assuredly result in poorer health outcomes for LGBTQ people.

“The rule stands in contradiction to prevailing medical science regarding transgender health and the consensus of all the leading health professional associations who have consistently opposed this measure. Healthcare providers in fact are united by the evidence in their support for nondiscrimination protections in healthcare for transgender and LGBQ people.

New Interim NIH Guidelines for people living with HIV regarding the COVID-19 pandemic

From the National Institutes of Health and Human Services

New guidelines have been set by the NIH in regards to persons living with HIV. This interim guidance reviews special considerations for persons with HIV and their health care providers in the United States regarding COVID-19. Information and data on COVID-19 are rapidly evolving. This guidance includes general information to consider. People with HIV who have COVID-19 have an excellent prognosis, and they should be clinically managed the same as persons in the general population with COVID-19, including when making medical care triage determinations.

Follow this link to read the new guidelines (https://aidsinfo.nih.gov/guidelines/html/8/covid-19-and-persons-with-hiv–interim-guidance-/0).

This interim guidance was prepared by the following working groups of the Office of AIDS Research Advisory Council:

  • HHS Panel on Antiretroviral Guidelines for Adults and Adolescents
  • HHS Panel on Antiretroviral Therapy and Medical Management of Children Living with HIV
  • HHS Panel on Treatment of Pregnant Women with HIV Infection and Prevention of Perinatal Transmission
  • HHS Panel on Guidelines for the Prevention and Treatment of Opportunistic Infections in Adults and Adolescents with HIV
  • HHS Panel on Opportunistic Infections in HIV-Exposed and HIV-Infected Children

Second Open Letter on COVID-19 Focuses on Nondiscrimination, Data Collection and Economic Harm for LGBTQ Communities

On April 21, 2020, GLMA, Whitman-Walker Health, the National LGBT Cancer Network, the National Queer Asian Pacific Islander Alliance, the New York Transgender Advocacy Group, and SAGE issued a second open letter to public health officials, healthcare institutions and government leaders on the impact of COVID-19 on LGBTQ communities. The letter, joined by 170 organizations, called for action to protect LGBTQ patients from discrimination and to include sexual orientation and gender identity in data collection efforts related to the pandemic. The letter also called for action to address the economic harm to LGBTQ communities from the pandemic.

To read the full second open letter and list of signatories, click here.

The letter released on April 21 is a follow-up to an open letter signed by more than 150 organizations issued by the six coordinating organizations on March 11, 2020. Information on the first letter is available here.

Important COVID-19 Resources:

Depressive disorders are ‘under recognized and under treated’ in people with HIV/AIDS

From Eurekalert.com

People living with HIV/AIDS are at increased risk of depressive disorders. But all too often, these conditions go unrecognized or untreated, suggests a literature review in the May/June issue of Harvard Review of Psychiatry. The journal is published in the Lippincott portfolio by Wolters Kluwer.

Proper diagnosis and management are essential to reduce negative health effects of depression in patients with HIV/AIDS, according to the report by Gustavo C. Medeiros, MD, of University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, Dallas, and colleagues. Based on an analysis of 125 research publications, “We provide evidence-based recommendations to improve assessment and management of depressive disorders in seropositive persons,” the researchers write.

Read the full article.

Pitt Men’s Study: Protect yourself and your community against COVID-19.

Covid 19 blood sampleThe Pitt Men’s Study would like to remind our volunteers and the community at large that protecting yourself from getting COVID-19 is not only a way to safeguard your own health but also important in protecting everyone you come in contact with.

The best way to prevent COVID-19 (coronavirus) infection is to follow the guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC):

  • Wash your hands with soap and water, for 20 seconds
  • Hand sanitizer must contain at least 60% alcohol
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Put distance between yourself and others.
  • Stay home if you are not feeling well.
  • Cover coughs and sneezes with a tissue
  • Throw used tissue in the trash
  • Immediately wash your hands or use hand sanitizer
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces daily
  • Wear a mask ONLY if you are sick or caring for someone who is sick

Remember, older adults and people with underlying chronic illness are at higher risk for serious complications from COVID-19 illness. Please call your healthcare provider if you have any of the following symptoms: Cough, fever, shortness of breath.

More information can be found on the CDC websites: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/about/prevention.html   and https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/specific-groups/high-risk-complications.html#Have-supplies-on-hand

For local, Health Department information go to: https://www.alleghenycounty.us/Health-Department/Resources/COVID-19/COVID-19.aspx

Health Alert: An open letter from multiple LGBTQ+ leaders and medical experts regarding COVID-19

An open letter from the Gay and Lesbian Medical Association:

As the spread of the novel coronavirus a.k.a. COVID-19 increases, many LGBTQ+ people are understandably concerned about how this virus may affect us and our communities. The undersigned want to remind all parties handling COVID-19 surveillance, response, treatment, and media coverage that LGBTQ+ communities are among those who are particularly vulnerable to the negative health effects of this virus.

Our increased vulnerability is a direct result of three factors:

  • LGBTQ+ population uses tobacco at rates that are 50% higher than the general population.[1]. COVID-19 is a respiratory illness that has proven particularly harmful to smokers.
  • The LGBTQ+ population has higher rates of HIV and cancer, which means a greater number of us may have compromised immune systems, leaving us more vulnerable to COVID-19 infections.
  • LGBTQ+ people continue to experience discrimination, unwelcoming attitudes, and lack of understanding from providers and staff in many health care settings, and as a result, many are reluctant to seek medical care except in situations that feel urgent – and perhaps not even then. In addition, there are more than 3 million LGBTQ+ older people living in the United States.
  • LGBTQ+ elders are already less likely than their heterosexual and cisgender peers to reach out to health and aging providers, like senior centers, meal programs, and other programs designed to ensure their health and wellness, because they fear discrimination and harassment. The devastating impact of COVID-19 on older people – the current mortality rate is at 15% for this population – makes this a huge issue for the LGBTQ+ communities as well.[2]

LGBTQ+ communities are very familiar with the phenomena of stigma and epidemics. We want to urge people involved with the COVID-19 response to ensure that LGBTQ+ communities are adequately served during this outbreak. Depending on your role, appropriately serving our communities could involve any of the following actions:

  • Ensuring that media coverage notes the particular vulnerabilities of any person with pre-existing respiratory illnesses, compromised immune systems or who uses tobacco products.
  • While populations – like LGBTQ+ communities – can be at increased risk, it is important to note the overall state of health that contributes to any person’s increased vulnerability to contracting COVID-19.
  • Ensuring health messaging includes information tailored to communities at increased risk for COVID-19, including LGBTQ+ populations. An example of such tailored messaging is including imagery of LGBTQ+ persons in any graphic ads.
  • Providing LGBTQ+ individuals resources to find welcoming providers, such as the ones provided here, if they are experiencing symptoms like a cough or fever and need to seek medical attention.
  • Ensuring funding to community health centers is distributed in a fashion that accounts for the additional burden anticipated by LGBTQ-identified health centers.
    Whenever possible ensuring health agencies partner with community-based organizations to get messaging out through channels we trust.
  • Ensuring surveillance efforts capture sexual orientation and gender identity as part of routine demographics.
  • Ensuring health workers are directed to provide equal care to all regardless of their actual or perceived sexual orientation, gender identity/presentation, ability, age, national origin, immigration status, race, or ethnicity.
  • Ensuring that all COVID-19 responses take into account exceptionally vulnerable members of the LGBTQ+ communities, including our elders, bi people, and black and brown trans and gender nonconforming/nonbinary people.

Since xenophobic responses are heavily impacting the Asian American communities, ensuring all communications and responses related to COVID-19 attempt to counter any such xenophobic responses, avoid racial profiling, and discourage the public from doing so as well.
Ensuring LGBTQ+ health leadership, along with all providers and health care centers, are provided with timely and accurate information to disseminate.

As LGBTQ+ community and health leadership, the undersigned organizations offer to stand shoulder to shoulder with the mainstream health leadership to make sure we learn from history and do not allow any population to be disproportionately impacted or further stigmatized by a virus.

[Find out what  you can do to protect  yourself, if you are at a higher risk of infection, at https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/specific-groups/high-risk-complications.html]

Initial Signers:
National LGBT Cancer Network
GLMA: Health Professionals Advancing LGBTQ Equality
Whitman-Walker Health
SAGE
New York Transgender Advocacy Group
National Queer Asian Pacific Islander Alliance

Additional Signers:
Advocates for Youth
Advocating Opportunity
Alder Health Services
Antioch University MFA Program
Athlete Ally
Atlanta Pride Committee
BiNet USA
Black Lives Matter Houston
Bradbury-Sullivan LGBT Community Center
California LGBTQ Health and Human Services Network
Callen-Lorde Community Health Center
CARES
Center on Halsted
CenterLink: The Community of LGBT Centers
Compass LGBTQ Community Center
Corktown Health Center
Counter Narrative Project
CreakyJoints & Global Healthy Living Foundation
CrescentCare
Darker Sister Center
Deaf Queer Resource Center
Desert AIDS Project
Desi Queer Diaspora
Equality California
Equality Federation
Equality North Carolina
Erie Gay News
Family Equality
Fenway Health
GALAEI
Gay City: Seattle’s LGBTQ Center
Gender Equality New York, Inc. (GENY)
Gender Justice League (Washington State)
Georgia Equality
GLAAD
GLBT Alliance of Santa Cruz
Greater Erie Alliance for Equality
Greater Palm Springs Pride
Harvey Milk Foundation
Hetrick-Martin Institute
HIV AIDS Alliance of Michigan
HIV Medicine Association
Horizons Foundation
Howard Brown Health
Human Rights Campaign
Independence Business Alliance
Indiana Youth Group
Infectious Diseases Society of America
Inside Out Youth Services
InterPride
Keystone Business Alliance
Lambda Legal
Lansing Area AIDS Network (LAAN)
Lansing Association for Human Rights
Legacy Community Health
LGBT Center of Greater Reading
LGBT Center of Raleigh
LGBT Elder Initiative
LGBTQ Center OC
MassEquality
Matthew Shepard Foundation
Milwaukee LGBT Community Center
Minority Veterans of America
National Center for Lesbian Rights
National Center for Transgender Equality
National Coalition for LGBT Health
National Equality Action Team
National LGBTQ Task Force
Newburgh LGBTQ+ Center
No Justice No Pride
Oasis Legal Services
Oklahomans for Equality
Our Family Coalition
Out Alliance
Out And Equal
Out Boulder County
OutCenter of Southwest Michigan
OutFront Kalamazoo
OutRight International
Pennsylvania Youth Congress
Persad Center, Inc.
PFund Foundation
Pizza Klatch
Positive Women’s Network
Pride Center of the Capital Region
Pride Center Of Vermont
Princess Janae Place Inc
Rainbow Community Center of Contra Costa County
Rockland County Pride Center
San Francisco AIDS Foundation
SAVE – Safeguarding American Values for Everyone
SERO Project
SF LGBT Community Center
SisTers PGH
St. James Infirmary
Still Bisexual
The LGBTQ Center Long Beach
The LOFT LGBT Community Services Center
The Montrose Center
The Social Impact Center
The Source LGBT+ Center
The Trevor Project
Thomas Judd Care Center
Thundermist Health Center
Transgender Education Network of Texas (TENT)
Transgender Legal Defense & Education Fund
Triangle Community Center
Trillium Health
TriVersity Center for Gender and Sexual Diversity
UNIFIED-HIV Health and Beyond
U.S. People Living with HIV Caucus
Wellness AIDS Services
William Way LGBT Community Cente
___
[1] Buchting et al. 2017; Creamer et al. 2019
[2] Wu Z, McGoogan JM. Characteristics of and Important Lessons From the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) Outbreak in China: Summary of a Report of 72?314 Cases From the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention. JAMA. Published online February 24, 2020. doi:10.1001/jama.2020.2648

Young men unaware of risks of HPV infection and need for HPV vaccination

From Eurekalert.com

Young sexual minority men — including those who are gay, bisexual, queer or straight-identified men who have sex with men — do not fully understand their risk for human papillomavirus (HPV) due to a lack of information from health care providers, according to Rutgers researchers.

Two men standing together. One man has  his arm around the other. Doctors need to expand communication on risks and the importance of vaccination, Rutgers researchers say

A Rutgers study published in the Journal of Community Health, examined what young sexual minority men — a high-risk and high-need population — know about HPV and the HPV vaccine and how health care providers communicate information about the virus and vaccine.

About 79 million Americans are infected with HPV, with about 14 million becoming newly infected each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. As a sexually transmitted infection, HPV can lead to several types of cancer, including anal and penile cancer, and is particularly concerning for sexual minority men due to the high prevalence of HIV and smoking in this community and the low HPV vaccination rates overall among men.

“Particularly in light of the decades-long focus on gay men’s health care as HIV care, there is a missed opportunity for HPV prevention in the community,” said study co-author Caleb LoSchiavo, a doctoral student at the Rutgers School of Public Health.

Read the full article.

Facebook disables some misleading ads on HIV prevention drugs, responding to growing outcry

From the Washington Post

Facebook has quietly started removing some misleading ads about HIV prevention medication, responding to a deluge of activists, health experts and government regulators who said the tech giant had created the conditions for a public-health crisis.

The ads at issue — purchased by pages affiliated with personal-injury lawyers and seen millions of times — linked drugs designed to stop the spread of HIV with severe bone and kidney damage. Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender advocates long have said such claims are “false,” pointing to multiple studies showing the class of medication, known as PrEP, is safe.

After initially declining to disable the ads, Facebook began on Friday retroactively labeling some of them as rule violations in its archive, limiting their visibility. The company’s third-party fact-checkers concluded the ads were misleading and lacked context, according to a copy of an email sent by those fact-checkers to LGBT groups that was shared with The Washington Post, which first reported on the matter earlier this month.

The change in course at Facebook drew praise from LGBT organizations that had worked since September to stop the spread of HIV misinformation on the social media platform. But many activists said they remain uneasy that it took so long to get Facebook’s attention in the first place — and worried the company’s policy on such ads in the future remains unclear.

“The removal of select ads is a strong first step given the findings of Facebook’s own fact-checking agency and the dozens of organizations that spoke out,” said Sarah Kate Ellis, the leader of GLAAD. She added the “time is now for Facebook to take action on other very similar ads which target at-risk community members with misleading and inaccurate claims about PrEP and HIV prevention.”

Facebook spokeswoman Devon Kearns confirmed that the company had taken action against some of the ads. “After a review, our independent fact-checking partners have determined some of the ads in question mislead people about the effects of Truvada,” she said, referring to the name of the drug. “As a result we have rejected these ads and they can no longer run on Facebook.”

Read the full article.

Health Alert: New drug-resistant STI spreading among men who have sex with men

From Out Magazine

Researchers at the University of Washington have identified a worrisome new bacterial cluster that’s growing in prevalence among men who have sex with men and is resistant to antibiotics.

The drug-resistant strains were identified in Seattle and Montreal, although researchers believe they’re common worldwide. Known as Campylobacter coli, the bacteria cause severe abdominal pain, bloody diarrhea, and fever and are estimated to affect about 1.3 million people in the United States annually. The journal Clinical Infectious Disease published the finding this month.

While the infection usually passes after a few days, it can pose a more serious threat to those with compromised immune systems.

Men who have sex with men are more prone to infection due to sexual practices like anal sex and rimming, according to the researchers. Transmission occurs when fecal matter enters another person’s body, and while it isn’t limited to any one population, gay men are more likely to experience drug-resistant infections because they’re more likely to have recieved antibiotics for similar infections in the past.

“The international spread of related isolates among MSM populations has been shown before for Shigella [another enteric pathogen], so it makes sense to see it in Campylobacter as well,” wrote the study’s lead author, Dr. Alex Greninger. “The global emergence of multidrug-resistant enteric pathogens in MSM poses an urgent public health challenge that may require new approaches for surveillance and prevention.”

Read more on Out Magazine online.

 

Study: People with HIV more likely to have high blood pressure

From MyHIVteam

People with HIV are more likely than people without the virus to have high blood pressure, in part because of treatments and repercussions of the condition itself, a new review of research shows.

Learning more about the underlying mechanisms of high blood pressure in people with HIV is critical in preventing one of the leading conditions that can cause premature cardiovascular disease in those adults, the researchers said. The implications are important in a population that has seen the rate of people dying from heart disease and stroke skyrocket over the last decade.

“I think that we really need to pay special attention to this population,” said Dr. Sasha Fahme, the study’s lead author and a global health research fellow at Weill Cornell Medical College in New York City. “Now that people [with HIV] are living longer, we are seeing the non-infectious consequences of HIV, and hypertension [high blood pressure] is one of them.”

In the Weill Cornell Medicine-led research review, published May 18 in the American Heart Association journal Hypertension, Fahme and her colleagues included 24 medical articles published between 2005 and 2017 that looked at high blood pressure among adults with HIV and those who didn’t have the virus. The study populations included the United States, Brazil, China, Italy, Tanzaniaand other countries.

Read the full article.