Category: health

Friends, Romans, and Countrymen

***(Editors Note: This is from a new contributor to our blogs, Alex. These are selected blogs she has started as a memorial to a friend to spread awareness of LGBT autism and mental illness).

Hello everyone!  My name is Alex.  This blog here is going to be a memorial blog.  It is written to honor the memory of a young lady named Renne, who died far too young.  There was nothing just about her death.  She wasn’t a drunk driver.  She didn’t use heavy drugs.  She just happened to be at a blind intersection, coming home from a friend’s house, when a car ran over her.

This blog is an attempt at making sense of her death, and also why she was so important to me.  It may go in fits and spurts.  I have a lot of material that i’ve already written about her.  There is more coming, but it is still in the editing process.

So welcome aboard.  I hope that someday, we can both make sense of this.

.

Thankyou San Francisco

Thankyou San Francisco

podcastThis city was once called the “Paris of the West” for its corruption and wildness but I am proud of the recent past and current history that San Francisco brings to the HIV/AIDS community and doing much in these issues to write the rules. And let’s not forget San Francisco is the birthplace of our NABWMT.

Today an HIV infected person can go to a San Francisco clinic, get tested quickly, see a doctor, get 5 pills and a prescription and, if needed, file for public health insurance. This program is called Rapid and is a great success.

Thank you San Francisco

Thank you San Francisco

Thank you San Francisco

Some 40 years ago I emigrated from England to the Bay Area of California and witnessed the “Free Love” and “Peace” movements and the rise of San Francisco as a gay city. I was in awe at the excitement, freedom and vibrance of the area to which I owe much.

This city was once called the “Paris of the West” for its corruption and wildness but I am proud of the recent past and current history that San Francisco brings to the HIV/AIDS community and doing much in these issues to write the rules. And let’s not forget San Francisco is the birthplace of our NABWMT.

Today an HIV infected person can go to a San Francisco clinic, get tested quickly, see a doctor, get 5 pills and a prescription and, if needed, file for public health insurance. This program is called Rapid and is a great success.

The city, once the HIV epicenter has turned the tide on this dreaded epidemic like no other. Infection has plummeted and the World Health Organization has used their programs as models. So patients are encouraged to be treated with antivirals as soon as possible. Some data:1992 had 2,332 infected now it is 302. The same trend is with deaths, 1641 down to 177 (and the latter includes deaths due to natural causes).

Why is the city so successful? Factors include: wealth from the tech companies, politics, doctors with history of HIV, and a large LGBT population. San Francisco has made up for losses in federal and state funding for HIV.

San Francisco has always, for good forbad, always gone first in pilot programs and clinical trials. In 1987 it opened the first HIV hospital ward, followed by the first use of AZT anti retroviral drug and clean needle distribution.

And the latest thrust tis he PrEP (pre-exposure prophylaxis) drug program with Truvada. At once the heralded (the FDA approved) and vilified program, since it has been shown to prevent infection in HIV naive persons but evoked criticism of its use as inviting casual sex. Some gay men called others “Truvada Whores” for avoiding condoms. But San Francisco clinics, doctors and officials don’t apply blame or shame to patients.

Which brings me to the Bay Area communities at the margins. The city now is mostly well educated whites and asians as apposed to black and brown, the latter group has left because of high rent. The former group is more likely to be aware of can afford to be treated. Still, the lessons learned in the city can be applied to the nation where 63% of HIV infected people are black or brown.

The main rest of this great commitment is the loss of fear of this, one time, “dreaded” disease. In the ‘90s it crippled the gay population but now young LGBT and straight people are without fear. Let us learn lesson from this as our NABWMT brothers did and now are able to tell the tale.

Please visit us on nabwmt.org, Facebook and Twitter.

Transgender Health Discrimination

Transgender Health Discrimination

trans

This is an abstract of a recently published article[*] by the St. John’s Well Child and Family Center of South Los Angeles. Direct quotes are shown as italics.

The Well Child and Family Center is a pioneer in serving and hiring transgender people. This article was made available during a BWMTSC [†]chapter meeting.

During this moment in time heralded as the transgender1 tipping point, discussion about transgender people is entering mainstream discourse, now more than ever. Despite the surge in media attention regarding the transgender community and growing acceptance of transgender identities, systemic and societal barriers remain, such as lack of access to health insurance, stigma, lack of sensitivity and cultural competency, that contribute to persistent, unmet health needs for transgender individuals.

The local speaker gave an overview of the difficulties she had as a trans women which mirrored many of the studies concern. As gay men our group was faintly aware of the difficulties of these people but was brought into focus more. This is of importance since people of color are in the majority in this cadre and have HIV issues too.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, transgender women have HIV prevalence rates 25 times higher than the general population.

What was not as well known by our group transgender individuals have higher rates of transient housing, lower rates of education, have difficulty finding steady employment. Some transgender people have to resort to sex work. The incarceration rate of transgender individuals is much higher than the general population, with 42% of transgender women of color reporting previous incarceration.

1 For purposes of the article, the word ‘transgender’ reflects the mission of inclusivity, non-judgment and affirmation of multiple transgender identities and includes but is not limited to the following identities: transgender, two-spirit, genderqueer, genderfluid, non-binary, agender, third gender, bigender, transfeminine, transwoman, transfemale, transmasculine, transman, transmale, masculine of center, gender non-conforming, gender questioning, et cetera. The University of California, Riverside recently hosted the First Asterisk Trans* Conference; February 27-28, 2015, where organizers provided their definition of a term now appearing Trans*, “Trans* affirms all people who transcend gender norms” (http://asteriskconference.blogspot.com/p/faq.html). St. John’s Transgender Health Program utilizes the term trans* in order to reflect our mission of inclusivity, non-judgment and affirmation of multiple transgender identities

What needs to be done?

Transgender people need acceptance, respect and preservation of dignity, Often patients cannot or dare not speak freely about their experience, health concerns and health-related behaviors without fear of inciting barriers to obtaining the transgender-related health care services they need. We need more providers to address this.

We need to remove the delay in approval for and receipt of transgender-specific care among patients who are insured through Medi-Cal managed care health plans.

They have failed to take a supportive stance on the delivery of time-sensitive and medically necessary care that they are obligated to provide to their transgender identified beneficiaries.

The California Department of Health Care Services requires them to cover gender surgery and hormone therapy. Likewise, insurance plans should add hormone therapy to a list of “life-

time approved” medications. However, the phrasing has allowed health plans to decide that a transgender person’s gender-affirming surgery may be considered “cosmetic” rather than “medically necessary,” and thus, would not be covered by insurance. Because gender-affirming surgeries for transgender patients are medically necessary and not “cosmetic in nature,” this language creates barriers to access to care and must be clarified. Gender identity should be protected from discrimination into the non-discriminatory hiring and employment.

Finally, a strong facilitation of legal name and gender change processes should be started. Too often when a transgender person changes name on forms and identity cards it very difficult for them to do so.

Legal name and gender change can increase an individuals’ comfort with accessing healthcare and employment as fears of discrimination, being called by the wrong name, and being confronted about gender identity are assuaged.

The National Association of Black and White Men has a proud record of supporting people at the margins and this should include the transgender community.

Note: St. John’s officially launched THP in January 2013 with 9 patients. Within 15 months, the program has close to 500 patients accessing care on a regular basis. Demand has been so high that St. John’s must expand its THP to additional days and health center site.

[*] http://www.wellchild.org/sjwcfcfinalthpwhitepaper.pdf

[†] http://bwmtsc.org

Health survey of Blacks shows surprises

Health survey of Blacks shows surprises

podcastThis is a podcast of a health survey showing African Americans may have some better health outcomes

On most health measures, blacks fare much worse than whites — differences that have largely been attributed to socioeconomic factors, access to healthcare and discrimination by doctors in the treatments they prescribe.

But if there were a health system in which all patients basically got the same care, would the disparities still exist?

It turns out there is such a system: the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. And a new analysis of nearly 3.1 million patients in the VA system has found a different kind of racial divide: Blacks do significantly better than whites.

Over a nine-year period, researchers found that the adjusted mortality rate of African Americans was 24% lower than that of whites, according to a published this month in the journal Circulation.

The results suggest that blacks may have genetic or other biological advantages that make them healthier than whites in some ways, but that those advantages are canceled out by other factors in society at large, the study authors wrote.

Source LA Times

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