Evanston library to host STI screening with Howard Brown

EVANSTON — The Evanston Health and Human Services Department, Howard Brown Health and the Evanston Public Library (EPL) are working together to provide STI screening in this Chicago suburb. From the Daily Northwestern:
Starting Jan. 14, individuals will be able to walk in to EPL’s main branch in downtown Evanston on the second Monday of every month between 3 and 7 pm without an appointment scheduled. Evonda Thomas-Smith, the director of the Evanston Health and Human Services Department, said she helped to advocate for the services’ implementation. She added that the city also partners with Evanston Township High School and the GYT: Get Yourself Tested campaign every year to screen for STIs.

UIC needle exchange and HIV testing site on west side offers expanded medical services

CHICAGO — Clinical services to prevent and treat wounds, abscesses and infections caused as a result of injection drug use are now being offered at the University of Illinois at Chicago’s Community Outreach Intervention Project’s, or COIP, west side field office. Services will be provided by physicians, nurses and students from UIC’s Urban Global Medicine Program and the UIC College of Nursing. COIP provides clean needles to injection drug users, performs testing for hepatitis C and HIV and offers overdose prevention education. Counselors at the clinic also help provide linkage to additional medical care and addiction treatment services for people with drug and alcohol use disorders. The west side office is one of five field sites run by COIP, which is housed in the UIC School of Public Health.

Truvada pills

Air Force approves use of PrEP

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Air Force has approved the use of PrEP for pilots and aircrew, overriding an older policy that prohibited its use, Military.com reported last week. From Military.com:
The service in September officially approved the use of the pre-exposure prophylaxis treatment (PrEP) medication, commonly known as Truvada, which helps reduce the risk of contracting the human immunodeficiency virus, the Air Force Surgeon General’s office recently told Military.com. Last year, Military.com profiled pilots whose careers were negatively affected because PrEP had not been authorized for them. But there’s a catch: Pilots and aircrew who wish to use PrEP must apply for a waiver, said Air Force Surgeon General spokeswoman Angelica Lopez. “As of September 2018, airmen in a flying status were able to request a waiver to use Truvada,” Lopez said in an email statement.

Studies find that transgender hormone therapy is less risky than birth control pills

WASHINGTON — Novel studies published in the Men’s Health Issue of AACC’s journal Clinical Chemistry suggest that hormone therapy for transgender people increases the risk of blood clots less than birth control pills and does not increase the risk of cardiovascular disease at all. These preliminary results could help more transgender individuals to access essential hormone therapy by increasing physician comfort with prescribing it. All major medical associations agree that transgender individuals need to be able to express their gender in ways with which they feel comfortable and that this is the most effective treatment for psychological distress caused by incongruence between sex assigned at birth and gender. For many transgender individuals, expressing their gender involves physically changing their body through medical steps such as taking hormone therapy. However, transgender patients often experience difficulty getting hormone therapy prescriptions, to the point that 1 in 4 transgender women have to resort to illegally obtaining cross-sex hormones.

Judge strikes down ACA putting law in legal peril — again

Julie Rovner, Kaiser Health News

The future of the Affordable Care Act is threatened — again — this time by a ruling Friday from a federal district court judge in Texas. Judge Reed C. O’Connor struck down the law, siding with a group of 18 Republican state attorneys general and two GOP governors who brought the case. O’Connor said the tax bill passed by Congress last December effectively rendered the entire health law unconstitutional. That tax measure eliminated the penalty for not having insurance. An earlier Supreme Court decision upheld the ACA based on the view that the penalty was a tax and thus the law was valid because it relied on appropriate power allowed Congress under the Constitution.

With one hand, administration boosts ACA marketplaces, weakens them with another

By Julie Appleby, Kaiser Health News

In the span of less than 12 hours last week, the Trump administration took two seemingly contradictory actions that could have profound effects on the insurance marketplaces set up by the Affordable Care Act. First, officials issued guidance Monday morning that could weaken the exchanges set up for people who buy their own insurance. The new approach makes it easier for states to get around some ACA requirements, including allowing the use of federal subsidies for skimpier plans that can reject people with preexisting conditions. Yet, the other move — a proposed rule unveiled Monday evening — could bolster ACA marketplaces by sending millions of people with job-based coverage there, armed with tax-free money from their employers to buy individual plans. Both efforts play into the parallel narratives dominating the bitter political debate over the ACA.

Intersex-affirming hospital policy guide published

NEW YORK — Friday, October 26 marks Intersex Awareness Day. interACT: Advocates for Intersex Youth, Lambda Legal, and Proskauer Rose LLP have recently released the nation’s first intersex-affirming hospital policy guide, offering concrete steps for medical providers to provide sensitive, non-discriminatory care to intersex patients. “Intersex” describes up to 1.7% of the population born with natural variations in chromosomes, hormones, or genitalia that transcend an outdated understanding of biological sex as a male/female binary. The guide’s release corresponds to the first successful legislation in the United States acknowledging the non-consensual surgeries faced by intersex people. Passed in August by the state of California, SCR-110 calls for the creation of clear policy encouraging the delay of cosmetic procedures until an intersex individual is old enough to make an informed decision.

Transgender and non-binary people face health care discrimination every day in the US

Shanna K. Kattari, University of Michigan
Many people may experience anxiety when seeking medical treatment. They might worry about wait times, insurance coverage or how far they must travel to access care. Transgender and non-binary individuals have an added fear: gender-related discrimination. This can involve being outed due to a name or gender mismatch on an insurance card, being completely denied care or even being left to die. Most recently, the White House has begun to seriously weigh removing transgender and intersex individuals from definitions of gender completely.

Study: ‘Religious freedom laws’ linked to poor health in LGBTQ people

PITTSBURGH — A study from the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health’s Center for LGBT Health Research found there may be a link to “religious freedom laws” and poorer reported health among LGBTQ people, referred to as “sexual minorities” in the press release. From MedicalXpress:
The study, recently published online in the American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, found that after Indiana’s passage of a Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) in 2015, sexual minorities increasingly reported poor health on a national survey. Such laws are often invoked by the courts to support those who want to deny services to members of particular groups due to conflicts with their personal religious beliefs. “Although we can’t say for certain what caused this significant increase in unhealthy days for sexual minority people in Indiana, the change coincided with intense public debate over enactment of the RFRA law,” said lead author John R. Blosnich, Ph.D., M.P.H., assistant professor in the Pitt School of Medicine’s Division of General and Internal Medicine, and member of Pitt Public Health’s Center for LGBT Health Research. He is also a scientist with the Center for Health Equity Research and Promotion in the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs’ VA Pittsburgh Healthcare System.