Gay Health Advocates Seek to Expand Attention to Health Disorders Other Than HIV/AIDS
Concerned that the gay and medical communities are placing too much emphasis on HIV status as an indicator of overall health for gay men, a group of gay health care advocates are trying to draw attention to other health problems gay men face, such as depression and substance abuse, the New York Times reports. Health care advocates nationwide are organizing regional gay men's health gatherings for both health care workers and the public, hoping to transmit the message that "HIV status should no longer be the sole barometer of gay men's health." David Ferguson, an HIV prevention specialist at the Utah AIDS Foundation, said, "A lot of the issues that gay men face regarding their overall health have been put on the back burner. But just because you're HIV-negative, it doesn't mean you're entirely healthy. And if you're HIV-positive, there are still a lot of other things that affect your health." Studies have shown that gay men are more likely than the general population to have health problems such as substance abuse and depression, and Ferguson said that gay men also need to be informed about issues such as mental health, hepatitis, chronic fatigue syndrome and prostate cancer. Although some AIDS educators are concerned that attention to other health issues will "overshadow" HIV prevention efforts, the organizers of the gatherings say they "will not ignore AIDS-related issues" and will also try to "develop more holistic approaches that tap into some of the underlying psychological causes for gay men's risky behavior, like low self-esteem and feelings of isolation" (Tuller, New York Times, 8/14).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.