AMA Wire

Wednesday, Oct. 17, 2012

For Minority Physicians

Attend the AMA-MAS business meeting and reception in Hawaii

Attend the AMA-MAS business meeting and reception in Hawaii

Join the AMA Minority Affairs Section (MAS) for its business meeting and reception, which will take place Nov. 9 in Honolulu. The meeting will be held in conjunction with the Interim Meeting of the AMA House of Delegates.

Keynote speaker S. Kalani Brady, MD, associate professor of the Center for Native and Pacific Health Disparities Research at the University of Hawaii John A. Burns School of Medicine, will discuss how to address racial and ethnic disparities in health care. The meeting also will feature an open forum on AMA House of Delegates reports and resolutions that impact minority physicians and patients.

Register (login required) for the business meeting and reception. Visit the Interim Meeting website for hotel and air travel details. Have questions about the meeting? Email the AMA-MAS or call Cynthia Norwood of the AMA at (312) 464-4743.

LGBT History Month shines light on important role of physicians in treatment

During LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgendered) History Month this October, clinicians have a chance to reflect on the important role they have played—and continue to play—in the lives of LGBT Americans. 

Standards of LGBT health have come a long way, from the removal of homosexuality from the catalogue of mental health disorders, to the end of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," to the recent American Psychiatric Association Task Force's report on the Treatment of Gender Identity Disorder. AMA policy also has evolved significantly over the years to recognize the deleterious effects of discrimination on the health of the LGBT community.

But there is still a long way to go. Workplace discrimination against LGBT employees is still legal in many states, and the Defense of Marriage Act prevents married same-sex couples from accessing many of the federal benefits available to straight couples.

The recent Human Rights Commission survey of LGBT youth found that 54 percent report having been verbally harassed, 47 percent say they do not "fit in" their community, and just 37 percent describe themselves as happy (compared to 67 percent of straight youth). Worse, approximately 40 percent of homeless or at-risk youth identify as gay or transgender, according to a recent study.

The health risks do not disappear in adulthood. The CDC confirms that gay men are more likely than other men to experience major depression and anxiety during adolescence and adulthood, and are more likely to commit or attempt suicide. Most alarmingly, according to a Lancet report, by age 40 a black, gay man has a 60% likelihood of becoming infected with HIV.

There is much that physicians can do to positively impact the health of the LGBT community.  In addition to setting frequently cited policy on LGBT issues, the AMA played an important role in ending "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," and has filed amicus briefs in Defense of Marriage Act cases stating: 1) the denial of civil marriage based on sexual orientation is discriminatory and imposes harmful stigma on gay and lesbian individuals and couples and their families; and (2) contributes to health care disparities affecting same-sex households.

The AMA also has created a variety of resources to help clinicians do their part to better serve their LGBT patients. These include such video tutorials as Meeting the Health Care Needs of LGBT People and Taking a Proper Sexual Health History.  This October is a perfect opportunity for American physicians to recognize the important role they can play in LGBT health and make even small efforts that can have a lasting impact on their patients.