A Quick Word on GLBT Health

Gay and Gray in the Midwest
One Iowa, an organization seeking equality for Iowa’s GLBT population, has started a new program called Gay & Gray in the Midwest. The new program strives to meet the needs of elderly GLBTQ people across the Midwest region of the United States. In order to discover how to meet these needs most effectively, One Iowa is distributing an anonymous survey across the Midwest.

One Iowa Education Fund’s (OIEF) mission is to support full equality for GLBT individuals living in Iowa through grassroots efforts and education. Formed in 2005, OIEF has been an effective advocate for the community. In coalition with progressive and political allies, recent achievements include civil rights protections against employment and housing discrimination, creating safe schools by establishing anti-bullying policies in Iowa’s schools, and the protection of marriage equality.

In conversations with GLBT elders, One Iowa knows that there are many questions and concerns about growing older: housing, relationships, health, finances, recreation, politics, coming out and/or staying out, our pets, religion and more. Here, in the Midwest, in rural and farming communities and in urban and suburban neighborhoods, those concerns are complex and profound. As the community works towards equality for all GLBT people, the needs and the realities of aging populations must not be forgotten. The battle for equality is being won because of the courage and tenacity of their lives. And so, One Iowa is seeking support in a simple, anonymous survey. Although the survey is open to every GLBTQ-identified individual above the age of 50 in the Midwest, One Iowa will use the results of this survey to address specific programming needs of Iowa’s GLBTQ elderly population. The results will also be shared with other GLBTQ organizations in the Midwest region.

If you are a GLBTQ-identified individual over the age of 50 and would like to participate, feel free to take the survey at www.surveymonkey.com/s/gayandgray2014.

Are Gay Men Underestimating Their Risk of HIV Infection?
A new study was recently published in the journal LGBT Health which offers a sobering look at sexually active gay men and their perceived risk of acquiring HIV. The most troubling finding might just be that they don’t believe they are at much risk at all.

More than 600 gay men were interviewed over a period of one year, each of whom participated in HIV testing at public venues in New York City. Researchers were attempting to discover how accurately the men could assess their candidacy for PrEP (pre-exposure prophylaxis, or taking Truvada each day to prevent infection) as well as their own perception of HIV risk.

To assess the probable risk of HIV infection, the men were surveyed on their sexual behaviors and drug use in the previous three months. The vast majority of those surveyed met the criteria for PrEP use (80 percent), but surprisingly, an almost equal number (78 percent) did not believe their risk to be significant enough to warrant PrEP.

“In the case of [gay men], a lack of self-awareness of risk may result in missed opportunities to prevent HIV,” the article notes. “Self-perception of risk for acquiring a disease has been shown to be an important motivating factor leading individuals to seek diagnostic testing and other preventive services.”

GLBTQ Mental Health Support
The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) Minnesota is sponsoring a new GLBTQ mental health support group to be held locally in St. Louis Park. Meeting Thursdays from 6:30-8:00 pm at the Lenox Community Center, this will be an ongoing support group for all adults who identify as gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, or queer/questioning who seek genuine mental health support in a non-judgmental setting and forum.

This is the second GLBTQ mental support group that NAMI Minnesota will be sponsoring in the Twin Cities metropolitan area. The first such mental health support group group meets every Saturday from 1:00 to 2:30 pm at Living Table United Church of Christ in Minneapolis. Both groups are being led by trained co-facilitators in the NAMI Connection support curriculum. For information, head to www.namihelps.org.

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