On Being Well

Once a month, Mazzoni Center brings you “On Being Well,” a column that aims to address a broad range of health and wellness issues that impact LGBT communities. Mazzoni Center recognizes that wellness means more than just an annual visit to the doctor: It’s about having access to health insurance,and a culturally competent provider who understands your unique health concerns, as well as counseling/mental health and recovery support. It’s about making smart, informed decisions about your body. And it’s also about your social environment, and feeling safe, confident and empowered in your identity and within your community. For more about Mazzoni Center, Philadelphia’s home for LGBT health and well-being, visit www.mazzonicenter.org.


As readers of PGN are aware, Mazzoni Center is currently in the midst of several major transitions. The recent departure of our longtime CEO Nurit Shein, as well as former board president Jimmy Ruiz, MD, and medical director Robert Winn, MD, represent a major turning point, and also an opportunity for us to examine our goals and core values, and to chart a course that will carry us into the next phase of our organizational journey. 

Pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) is the newest and most promising biomedical HIV-prevention intervention to date.  PrEP has been shown to be anywhere from 92-99-percent effective at preventing HIV transmission. In short, it is a game-changing prevention tool with the potential to dramatically impact rates of new HIV infection and potentially even bring an end to HIV in our lifetimes.  

Uncertainty is a feeling many of us have experienced in recent months. It’s been a fixture in news headlines, driven by the political upheaval that has followed last November’s election. This kind of macro-level uncertainty can absolutely affect how we feel in our everyday lives. And of course there are numerous personal examples — a job loss, a break-up, a move — where a sense of uncertainty about the future can create real anxiety that impacts our mental and physical health in a tangible way.

With so much happening in our political system at the moment, it can be difficult to keep up with each new development. The fact is that under the new presidential administration, there are many reasons for LGBTQ Americans, and other marginalized communities, to be concerned. This week we’re looking at the Affordable Care Act, and what a repeal of this legislation would actually mean, both in the broader picture and specifically for LGBTQ Americans.

Earlier this month, the National Center for Transgender Equality (NCTE) released the results of the U.S. Trans Survey (USTS), which, at 28,000 respondents, is the largest survey ever devoted to the lives and experiences of trans people. The USTS was a follow-up to the groundbreaking National Transgender Discrimination Survey, which was collected in 2008 and 2009 by the NCTE in partnership with the National LGBTQ Task Force.

Every year, the team at Mazzoni Center’s Open Door Counseling program puts together what we call a “Holiday Survival Guide,” filled with tips and advice on navigating a season that can often bring challenges. Despite the joyful reputation, we all know that the holidays can also be a tough time for LGBTQ folks who may have strained relations with families of origin; for trans or gender-nonconforming folks coming to terms with family who may not be fully accepting or affirming of your identity; for people who are in recovery; for those who have been through a recent loss or break-up; or for anyone who braces themselves as this season approaches. 

 

Philadelphia is fortunate to be home to many agencies that provide holistic care aiming to meet the distinct needs of people living with HIV. These providers understand that comprehensive treatment means more than simply offering medical care, but also looking at the overall circumstances of a person’s life. Imagine if this comprehensive and patient-informed care model could be used not just to treat HIV, but to prevent HIV transmission completely.

Mazzoni Center has joined with several other health-care providers and LGBT organizations around the United States in calling on manufacturers of injectable estrogen to address the serious shortage that has been affecting trans women for the past several months. This shortage is affecting the availability of Delestrogen and its generic counterpart, estradiol valerate, in 40 mg/mL dosages, which is the preferred regimen for many transgender women.

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