As we look ahead to the new year, let’s look back at major advances in LGBT health made in the past year. Here are 5 that stand out. What other LGBT health stories caught your attention in 2012? Let us know in the comments!
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) kicked off 2012 by reviewing its progress on Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) health issues.
Secretary Sebelius’s statement highlighted the government’s achievements on LGBT health and equality, including:
- Hospital visitation rights for LGBT partners
- The release of Health Resources and Services Administration’s first lesbian and bisexual inclusive Women’s Health USA report
- A grant to The Fenway Institute to create a National Training and Technical Assistance Center to help community health centers (CHCs) provide improved care for LGBT patients.
The Supreme Court upheld the Affordable Care Act (ACA), which benefits LGBT people and people living with HIV and AIDS.
The ACA increased access to affordable health care for LGBT people, many of whom live in states where anti-LGBT laws prevent them from being covered by same-sex partners’ employer-provided insurance. It also prevents discrimination based on pre-existing conditions such as HIV and AIDS.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved an antiretroviral medication known as emtricitabine/tenofovir disoproxil fumarate (FTC-TDF) for Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) to prevent HIV.
PrEP has shown efficacy with men who have sex with men (MSM) and heterosexual women and men. In July, the FDA approved FTC-TDF for PrEP, giving us a new tool to help prevent the spread HIV.
Major advances were made in transgender care.
In September, HHS clarified that the sections of the ACA that prohibit sex discrimination by health insurers will also protect transgender people.
Early in December, the American Psychiatric Association board of trustees approved revisions to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) that declassify being transgender as a mental disorder. Homosexuality was declassified as a mental disorder in 1973. This will pave the way for more affirmative care for transgender people.
HIV testing became more accessible.
The Massachusetts HIV Testing Bill was signed into law with the goal of increasing routine HIV testing in the Commonwealth.
The first over-the-counter rapid HIV test was approved by the FDA and became available to consumers.
The U.S. Preventative Task Force released recommendations that every American ages of 15–65 be tested for HIV. This panel’s recommendations are used in determining what is covered by health insurance under the Affordable Care Act.