AMA Wire

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

News for Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Physicians

Boy Scouts' decision highlights gay youth health issues

Boy Scouts decision highlights gay youth health issues

The recent decision of the Boy Scouts of America to allow gay youth members has been extensively covered by the media. One recent article featured by CNN discusses the implications of the decision on the health of gay children.

Discrimination, writes Rob Stephenson, associate professor of Global Health at Emory University, affects every walk of life. It has been shown to lead to poorer health, especially in the form of depression, anxiety and substance abuse.

Discrimination can be especially detrimental when it occurs during childhood when "we internalize messages we receive about what is right, what is normal [and] what we are allowed to be," Stephenson writes. Young gay people are significantly more likely to attempt suicide compared to heterosexual youth.

Stephenson believes the Boy Scouts decision sent a message to gay youth that they are not different, but there is still a lot of work to be done. The ban on gay Scout leaders remains, as does a decision from the Supreme Court of the United States on the Defense of Marriage Act.

"By creating equality," Stephenson writes, "we can create better health—right from the start."

More than a decade ago, the AMA called for youth-oriented organizations to reconsider exclusionary policies that are based on sexual orientation or gender identity. You can read a complete list of AMA policies on gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender issues.

New York Times profiles aging AIDS survivors

A recent New York Times article profiles people living long-term with HIV, many of whom expected to die of AIDS and never thought they would live long enough to encounter the typical problems of middle age or later life.

The New York Times reports that "their stories have largely moved out of the spotlight, as the disease seemed to yield to the miracle of new drugs," but "for people living with the virus that causes it, the experience is more layered and complex."

These 50,000 or so survivors are "a living science experiment, entering medical and psychological territories that are largely uncharted," the New York Times reports.

Among the challenges these patients encounter are questions of what kind of long-term side effects the virus and medication may cause, how these factors impact aging and how to create a new life after having prepared oneself for death.

Learn how you can do more to improve the health of your patients with HIV and AIDS through the AMA's GLBT health resources.