An antiretroviral medication known as Truvada (emtricitabine/tenofovir disoproxil fumarate, or FTC-TDF) was approved in July as a pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) to be used in combination with safer sex practices to help prevent sexually acquired HIV infection. The medication was released after an FDA scientific advisory committee recommended its use in May. The New England Journal of Medicine published three studies about the drug’s effectiveness in reducing the risk of HIV infection among men and women in Africa. Pre-exposure prophylaxis has great potential, especially when used in conjunction with risk-reduction counseling, safer sex practices such as condom use, expanded testing and linkage to treatment/care facilities, such as Good Samaritan Project in Kansas City.
More information is available from Fenway Health: www.fenwayhealth.org/site/DocServer/PolicyFocus_PrEP_v7_02.21.12.pdf?docID=9321
Other newsworthy items include:
► The LGBTQ Health Equity Summit on Aug. 14 in Kansas City was a great success. Participants of varying ages and identities from throughout the nation came together to collaborate about LGBT health disparities and address tobacco-control practices in their local communities. The LGBT Health Equity Network released “MPOWERED: Best and Promising Practices for LGBT Tobacco Prevention and Control.” Later that evening, Hamburger Mary’s hosted a promotion that modeled how LGBT tobacco prevention can be implemented in our community.
► The Missouri Foundation for Health released its August 2012 Health Equity Series: “Responding to LGBT Health Disparities.” The report focuses on LGBT health disparities in Missouri and nationally. It includes definitions of culturally competent health care and public health policies that affect LGBT health disparities. The report is rich in statistics on everything from physical fitness to hate crimes. It also lists recommended policies for states that would have a significant impact on LGBT health. The report will be available later in the year at: mffh.org.
► The Association for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Issues in Counseling recently released its new “Competencies for Counseling LGBQQIA Individuals.” This document complements the group’s “Competencies for Counseling with Transgender Clients.” Both are available at: algbtic.org
► An article in the Huffington Post states that the government of India has spent $1.28 million to purchase letters written by the peace-promoting civil rights leader Mahatma Gandhi that may otherwise have been auctioned publicly. Some say the purchase was made because officials feared that the letters may prove that Gandhi was gay. (www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/07/12/india-government-buys-gandhi-letters-to-stop-auction_n_1668466.html?utm_hp_ref=gay-voices&icid=maing-grid10%7Chtmlws-main-bb%7Cdl43%7Csec1_lnk2%26pLid%3D178443)
► The Advocate magazine featured a powerful op-ed piece about the potential damage that could occur when therapists unethically provide sexual conversion therapy (also known as reparative or ex-gay therapy) to their clients. (www.advocate.com/commentary/2012/08/01/california-must-ban-harmful-conversion-therapy-attempts-turn-gay-people)
► The Missouri GSA (Gay Straight Alliance) Network is gearing up for the 2012-13 school year by working on an online map of GSAs in the state (batchgeo.com/map/0732141bd8b6ef06dd1cdb7559e11356). The map is a work in progress, but it does indicate that Kansas City needs more GSAs in our public school systems. For more information, go to gsanetwork.org or contact firstname.lastname@example.org
► Perhaps you heard that a change in policy now allows military personnel to officially wear their uniforms at Gay Pride events. However, it is even more interesting to note that a recent independent study by military veteran and psychologist George Brown found that transgender identities are more likely to emerge from those within the military. His theory states that “current military policies, in association with the proposed hypermasculine phase of transsexual development, may actually result in a higher prevalence of transsexualism in the military than in the civilian population” and more recent data support this idea. (www.courthousenews.com/2012/07/24/48664.htm).
► Sally Ride, the first American woman in space, died recently at 61 from pancreatic cancer. It was revealed after her death that she had been in a 27-year relationship with another woman. (www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/07/23/sally-ride-first-american-woman-female-partner-_n_1696537.html?utm_hp_ref=daily-brief?utm_source=DailyBrief&utm_campaign=072412&utm_medium=email&utm_content=NewsEntry&utm_term=Daily%20Brief)
► An article in the New York Times states that Serbia is becoming a hub for sex-change (sex-realignment) surgery. According to the Belgrade Center for Genital Reconstructive Surgery, nearly 100 people have undergone the procedure this year, and the numbers are growing. For Serbs, national health insurance helps defray the cost of this expensive procedure, which is also shunned by many other countries in the region. Transgender health-care tourism (going elsewhere for medical procedures) is becoming popular due to the complicated nature of procedures and social prejudice toward trans identities. (www.nytimes.com/2012/07/24/world/europe/serbia-becomes-a-hub-for-sex-change-surgery.html?_r=1&hp)