Too Gay to Diagnose

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Zackary Carpenter realized he had mono in early September after his liver and kidneys started to fail. Carpenter believes doctors are not given enough training treating gay men. Screenshot from Berkeley Lovelace Jr.

 

Guest Writer: Zackary Carpenter (@zackmacg)

Zackary Carpenter currently studies magazine journalism at the University of Missouri. He is from Blanchard, Okla. just south of Oklahoma City. Carpenter likes video games, science fiction, beat poetry and various forms of music. Opinions are his own. Place close attention when marked (ATT:)

When I was 19 years old, my liver and kidneys began to fail and my muscles started deteriorating. My blood was extremely toxic and I had a severe headache. I felt like a Centaurian slug was digging into my head, and I did not know where the hell Spock was. This is the story of how I learned that doctors know very little about gay men, and what they learned in five hours of training.

I am not HIV positive, and even though I am a gay male, I do not have any other STIs to my knowledge. I always use a condom during anal sex, and I am very careful about how I go about oral sex. I never mix sex with alcohol, and I have never used intravenous needles to take a drug. Continue reading

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Disparities in LGBT Healthcare

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The individual to the left could be heterosexual, homosexual or transgender and prone to a number of health risks. According to one study, doctors can be unaware due to simply not asking questions. Photo by hang_in_there.

     The average reported hours dedicated to LGBT health education content: 5.

     LGBT individuals experience health care disparities. Medical students across the country learn insufficient knowledge about gay, lesbian or transgender issues in medical school. A study published from The Journal of the American Medical Association showed that across age groups doctors continue to make oversights when caring for LGBT patients–which is problematic when a person may not feel comfortable disclosing their sexual or gender identity.

According to the study, LGBT individuals have specific health care needs related to chronic disease risk, adolescent and adult mental health, relationship violence, transmitted infections and more, as compared to heterosexual peers. A 2011 Institute of Medicine report also noted that LGBT people face the full range of medical issues as the rest of society, but they also face additional health risks due to social stigma. The study noted that the depth of LGBT health related curricula is somewhat unknown; however, researchers found on average the most was 5 hours. And the curricula was focused more on sexual behavior and infections.

This curriculum largely ignores that complex health issues LGBT individuals often face. The lack of education can put an individual in a decision of whether or not they can see their doctor. And if the person does decided to see a doctor, it can often be met with stress and fear. However, the government and medical schools have recognized these disparities according to several reports, and are said to be making initiatives to address these issues.

The study also noted specifically how some medical professionals are uncomfortable dealing with gay patients, sexual topics, and more. Here is the study: http://jama.jamanetwork.com/article.aspx?articleid=1104294