Digest 1 (6/11-9/11)

by Claudia Pitts, PhD

June 21, 2011

Lesbians and Bisexual Women Are Less Likely To Get Pap Tests.

A recent study found that young bisexual and lesbian women were less likely to get Pap tests than straight women and that young bisexual women faced a higher risk of being diagnosed with sexually transmitted infections. Many young women seek gynecologic care primarily to obtain birth control. If birth control isn’t a priority, then there is one less motivator for getting to the doctor. Because these tests can find early stage cervical cancer and STIs, to which lesbians and bi women are susceptible, not taking these tests leaves them more vulnerable to these diseases progressing without being detected.

Charlton, B., Corliss, H., Missmer, S., Frazier, A., Rosario, M., Kahn, J., Austin, S., (2011). Reproductive Health Screening Disparities and Sexual Orientation in a Cohort Study of U.S. Adolescent and Young Adult Females. Journal of Adolescent Health (10.1016/j.jadohealth.2011.03.013)

September 20, 2011

Medical Students Receive Little Training on LGBT Health

According to a new survey of medical school deans in the U.S. and Canada, schools spent a median of just 5 hours teaching LGBT-related health content over the course of the 4-year education. About 33% of the medical schools provided no LGBT-related instruction during students’ clinical years and nearly 4 percent of schools reported not covering LGBT health at all. The good news is that nearly all of the medical schools surveyed (97%) taught students to ask patients if they “have sex with men, women, or both” when obtaining a sexual history. But, the teaching frequency of all the other suggested LGBT-specific topics was quite low (8.3%). Without culturally competent doctors, LGBT people will continue to avoid the healthcare system and, when they do go, will be less able to get the treatment they need and deserve.

(Obedin-Maliver, et al., Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender-Related Content in Undergraduate Medical Education. JAMA. 2011; 306(9): 971-977)

September 21, 2011

HHS Puts Muscle behind the Obama Visitation Ruling

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced that Medicare- and Medicaid-participating hospitals (virtually all hospitals) must explain to all patients their right to choose who may visit them, regardless of whether the visitor is a family member, a spouse or a domestic partner (including a same-sex domestic partner). They are also mandating that hospitals recognize advance directives designating a same-sex partner as someone who can make emergency medical decisions for a patient who’s incapacitated. If a hospital doesn’t comply with the new rules and fails to fix the problem, HHS has the power to terminate a Medicare provider agreement, which would be a major financial blow to any hospital.

(http://www.hhs.gov/news — Sept 7, 2011)

For the original memo from President Obama: http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/presidential-memorandum-hospital-visitation