This fall marks the launching of a new quarterly healthcare publication, LGBT Health, dedicated to optimizing the health and healthcare of the LGBT community. Dr. William Byne has signed on as editor-in-chief of the new peer-reviewed journal. The premier issue will be available free of charge at the 31st GLMA Conference in September 18-20 in Denver, CO.
"We want this to be a journal for the general health practitioner, because we believe LGBT individuals should feel empowered to expect high-quality healthcare with appropriate screenings, delivered in a culturally competent manner, regardless of where they seek care," said Byne in a recent interview.
Byne said that many LGBTs consult directories of LGBT-friendly healthcare providers via the Gay and Lesbian Medical Association (GLMA) or HRC’s Health Equality Index, to allow them to see how their hospital or clinic rates. While this was good, said Byne, he looked forward to the day when every doctor could be counted on to recognize and treat issues relevant to LGBT patients.
"LGBT individuals experience a number of health care disparities and barriers to health," said Byne. "Recently, legislative changes and judicial decision and policy changes have opened a window of opportunity to remove those barriers to care. I think it’s important we take this opportunity to move forward and accomplish what we can during this window."
Among these health care disparities and barriers to health, Byne named the need for physicians to not only treat LGBT individuals with respect, but the need to know about health risks endemic to the population.
For for example, men who have sex with men, especially those who engage in anal intercourse, should have PAP smears. But Byne said that many doctors and gay men alike believe PAP smears are something only women should have.
In addition, compared to heterosexual women, lesbians are more likely to be overweight and smoke, and with their reproductive pattern differences are more likely to experience breast or reproductive cancers, said Byne. Yet they are four times less likely to have mammograms or PAP smears than heterosexual women.
"The combination of being overweight and smoking increases their cardiovascular risk. With that knowledge, we can encourage them to have appropriate screenings," said Byne. "Unfortunately, they may be missing screenings because of having had the experience of stigma or embarrassment in previous care. Some LGBT individuals might avoid seeking care, and if they don’t set foot in clinic to begin with, that precludes screening."
Other factors, like increased substance abuse and smoking among the LGBT population, require physicians to make sure they ask appropriate screening questions about smoking and institute smoking cessation programs.
And LGBT individuals who want to have families have particular reproductive issues that physicians need to be willing to address. In addition, gays and lesbians are more likely to have alternative family structures and support systems. Physicians routinely ask heterosexual patients about their family and children, and they need to get analogous information on LGBT patients.
"We believe the wave of the future will be to make LGBT healthcare more mainstream," said Byne. "The Joint Commission, Institutes of Medicine and HHS feel that medical and other health practitioners should be LGBT competent."
Mary Ann Liebert Inc., Publishers has already published a preview issue, which will be available online with Open Access options, and in print. It includes an interview with Leonard Harvey, MD, MBA, Senior Director of Aetna Southern California, which focuses on insurance issues that are important for LGBT individuals.
Brian de Vries, PhD, looks at the issues faced by aging LGBTs in terms of health, social support and other needs in his essay, "LG(BT) Persons in the Second Half of Life: The Intersectional Influences of Stigma and Cohort."
In "The Importance of LGBT Health on a Global Scale," Nils Daulaire, MD, MPH, assistant secretary for Global Affairs with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services will present the global scope of LGBT health issues and the role of the World Health Organization, the health arm of the United Nations.
Other LGBT health care issues to be covered include transgender-specific health issues; health issues of intersex conditions and disorders of sex development; HIV/AIDS and STDs; at-risk youth and risk factors; gender variant children; parenting by sexual minorities; public health policy, insurance reform and healthcare; and lifecycle development and aging.
Spanning a broad array of disciplines, LGBT Health brings together the latest research, medical and advocacy communities to address current challenges and improve the health, well-being and patient outcomes of LGBTs. The wide range of articles will help clarify health needs, define clinical and educational best practices, identify ways to increase access to care and educate and empower medical consumers.
"The editorial content of the preview set out issues that I hope we can make substantial progress on, so that this becomes a new era for LGBT health," said Byne. "Doctors and hospitals must become LGBT inclusive, and provide culturally competent care for LGBT patients."
Mary Ann Liebert Inc., Publishers is a privately held, fully integrated media company known for establishing authoritative medical and biomedical peer-reviewed journals, including "AIDS Patient Care and STDs," "AIDS Research and Human Retroviruses," "Journal of Women’s Health" and Population Health Management. Mary Ann Liebert, Inc., publishers pioneered the first journal on AIDS in 1983.
For more information or to access a preview issue of the journal, visit www.liebertpub.com/lgbt
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