Fenway Health


How Best To Care For LGBT Patients? New Medical Guide Reflects Change

(Courtesy of Marilyn Humphries)

(Courtesy of Marilyn Humphries)

By Dr. Harvey Makadon
Guest Contributor

In 2007, only one state — Massachusetts — recognized the marriages of same-sex couples. Today, 37 do, and based on the outcome of a pending U.S. Supreme Court case, marriage equality may be extend to all 50 states by June.

A similar sea change has taken place in the area of health care for LGBT people and those living with HIV — at least in terms of awareness of the problems that LGBT people face in accessing health care.

In 2007, when the first edition of the “Fenway Guide To Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Health” was published, the critical need for culturally competent health care for LGBT people was being discussed among a relatively small group of LGBT people and allies.

Dr. Harvey Makadon (Courtesy)

Dr. Harvey Makadon (Courtesy)

But in 2011, the Institute of Medicine’s report, “The Health of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender People,” firmly established the existence of broad health disparities affecting LGBT communities, and laid out an ambitious agenda for addressing them.

The second edition of the “Fenway Guide To Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Health,” which has just been published, is a natural outgrowth of this new information. About 80 percent of the text is brand new, and all of it is built on a strong new foundation of understanding the impact that actions — and inactions — by health professionals have had on LGBT people.

Today, we know that, in comparison with the general population,

• LGBT youth are more likely to attempt suicide and be homeless.

• LGBT populations have higher rates of tobacco, alcohol and other drug use.

• LGBT populations have a higher prevalence of certain mental health issues. Continue reading