Hor­mone re­place­ment ther­apy, HIV/AIDS treat­ments at risk

GA Voice - - Outspoken -

If there’s one New Year’s res­o­lu­tion health of­fi­cials ask of the LGBT com­mu­nity, it’s to stop smok­ing.

“There are long-stand­ing dis­par­i­ties in cig­a­rette smok­ing and over­all to­bacco use by sex­ual ori­en­ta­tion and gen­der iden­tity,” said Brian King, deputy di­rec­tor for re­search trans­la­tion in the Cen­ters for Dis­ease Con­trol and Pre­ven­tion Of­fice on Smok­ing and Health.

Ac­cord­ing to the Cen­ters for Dis­ease Con­trol and Pre­ven­tion, the per­cent­age of les­bian, gay or bi­sex­ual peo­ple who smoke is 6 per­cent higher than those out­side of the com­mu­nity who smoke.

Nearly 21 per­cent of les­bian, gay and bi­sex­ual in­di­vid­u­als smoke – there is no re­li­able data yet for trans­gen­der per­sons – com­pared to about 15 per­cent of het­ero­sex­ual adults, King said. When those num­bers are ex­panded to in­clude other to­bacco prod­ucts, the dis­par­i­ties rise even more. Thirty-two per­cent of les­bian, gay and bi­sex­ual peo­ple use to­bacco prod­ucts com­pared to 21 per­cent of het­ero­sex­ual adults, King said.

Bill Blatt, na­tional di­rec­tor of to­bacco pro­grams for the Amer­i­can Lung As­so­ci­a­tion, added that smok­ing rates for gay men and les­bians are 2 and 1 per­cent higher than het­ero­sex­ual men and women, re­spec­tively.

Higher rates of smok­ing and to­bacco use also in­di­cate higher mor­tal­ity rates. King said es­ti­mates are in the tens of thou­sands as to num­bers of les­bian, gay and bi­sex­ual in­di­vid­u­als who die each year from smok­ing-re­lated causes.

In ad­di­tion to the more com­monly known can­cers, heart and lung dis­ease that smok­ing can lead to, there are health risks LGBT in­di­vid­u­als are es­pe­cially sus­cep­ti­ble to.

Nico­tine, the main ad­dic­tive el­e­ment in cig­a­rettes, can in­ter­fere with hor­mone re­place­ment ther­apy by re­duc­ing cir­cu­lated es­tro­gen lev­els. Chem­i­cals in cig­a­rettes can also com­pli­cate HIV and AIDS treat­ments, King said. This puts in­di­vid­u­als with HIV at risk of be­ing fur­ther im­muno­com­pro­mised and sus­cep­ti­ble to things like thrush.

“There’s a lot of dif­fer­ent fac­tors that are likely to have con­trib­uted to these marked dis­par­i­ties,” King said. “We know that to­bacco dis­par­i­ties are likely a re­sult of stres­sors that could in­clude in­ter­nal­ized ho­mo­pho­bia. An­other is tar­geted mar­ket­ing to­ward the LGBT com­mu­nity.”

He said the to­bacco in­dus­try has a “pro­found his­tory” of tar­get­ing cer­tain pop­u­la­tions, in­clud­ing heavy prod­uct mar­ket­ing in gay bars. Com­bined with the in­creased men­tal and so­cial stres­sors faced by mem­bers of the LGBT com­mu­nity, they cre­ate a “per­fect storm that has led to el­e­vated to­bacco use.”

By DAL­LAS DUN­CAN

Bill Blatt

Brian King

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