Wednesday, June 13, 2012
News for Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Physicians
At-home HIV test could expand screening, hinder follow-up care
A Food and Drug Administration advisory panel is recommending approval of an over-the-counter, rapid at-home HIV test that would let patients take control of determining their HIV status and could expand the rate of testing. The FDA will consider the panel's opinion and make its final approval decision later this year.
Some physicians and public health experts say the product, the OraQuick In-Home HIV Test, would allow patients to skip pre- and post-test counseling, American Medical News reports. It also could hinder efforts to educate patients about practicing safe sex and starting treatment, they said.
Transgendered voters face burdens at the polls
The transgendered community may experience significant disenfranchisement in the general election this year because of the hurdles created by voter and gender-change identification laws, according to a recent study.
Published by the UCLA School of Law's Williams Institute, the study identifies nine states with strict voter identification laws where transgendered residents attempting to vote with outdated gender information on their identification may face problems. Although the process for updating gender on a driver's license varies in complexity from state to state, all require some verification or documentation by a physician from whom the transgendered individual has received transition care or evaluation, the study notes.
Likewise, the State Department requires physician certification of clinical treatment to facilitate gender transition in order to update a passport, a relaxed version of the previous requirement of documentation of sex reassignment surgery.
The study estimates that 29 percent of transgendered residents in states with voter identification laws carry identification with incorrect gender information—about 25,232 potential voters.
These transgendered residents face potentially significant burdens and possible disenfranchisement when they attempt to vote in November. Even in states without strict voter identification laws, transgendered voters carrying outdated identification have reported harassment, being asked to leave and, in a few cases, even physical assault at their polling venues.
Especially at risk of disenfranchisement are minority and low-income transgendered voters, who are less likely to have updated identification, the study notes. While the study did not offer solutions for this impending problem, Argentina recently made news by becoming the first country to relinquish the cumbersome identification updating process. The law allows gender information on identification to be changed based solely on the preference of its holder, without doctor or court approval.
It's doubtful whether such a change will come in the United States before the November election. However, you can learn more about each state's process for updating gender on identification or on a driver's license. Also, view the State Department's requirements for requesting an amended passport.
The Gay and Lesbian Medical Association also provides an online directory to help gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender patients find health care professionals.