Gay teenagers who have had at least four sexual partners are at increased risk of contracting human papillomavirus (HPV), a new study suggests.
At least half of sexually active people get HPV at some point in their lives, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Previous research has suggested most adult gay men have the sexually transmitted infection. HPV is usually cleared by the immune system but can cause genital warts and anal cancer, as well as cervical cancer among women.
“In this study we found rates of anal infection increased rapidly with increasing numbers of partners with whom they have received anal sex,” senior author Marcus Y. Chen said. “The virus is presumably being transmitted from penis to anus.”
Chen is an associate professor in the School of Population and Global Health at the University of Melbourne in Australia.
The CDC recommends boys and girls get vaccinated against HPV at age 11 or 12, before becoming sexually active. There are two versions of the HPV vaccine, one of which is available for boys.
The vaccine is very effective if given before a person is exposed to HPV but provides “diminishing protection” after that, Dr. Ross D. Cranston told Reuters Health.
“Thus if there is a high rate of HPV acquisition, as we also see in girls, there is a lost opportunity to provide protection if the HPV vaccine is not given early,” he said.
Cranston, who was not involved in the new study, directs the Anal Dysplasia Clinic and Research Program at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center in Pennsylvania.
Chen and his team tested 200 young gay men age 16 to 20 for HPV and genital warts and gave them a sexual history questionnaire.
One-third of the men tested positive for high-risk forms of the virus, and 11 percent tested positive for two or more forms.
Men who’d ever had vaginal sex or anal sex were more likely to test positive for penile HPV, according to results published in the Journal of Infectious Diseases.
Among men who had never received anal sex, 10 percent tested positive for anal HPV. That compared to nearly half of those who said they’d had at least four anal sex partners.
The finding that some young men who reported never receiving anal sex tested positive for anal HPV suggests the virus can be transmitted in other ways, the authors write.
About 7,000 people in the U.S. will be diagnosed with anal cancer in 2013, according to the American Cancer Society. Rates are higher among gay men than heterosexual people, Chen noted.
Of the many types of the HPV virus, HPV 16 is most commonly associated with anal cancers.
“Our study found that gay male teens acquire the HPV virus including HPV 16 very soon after they first become sexually active,” Chen told Reuters Health.
“This means that the HPV vaccine, which has been shown to be effective in preventing HPV infection in males, including anal infection in gay men, needs to be given very early on, preferably before gay teens start to have sex.”
Many countries routinely vaccinate all girls against HPV. But as of 2013, Australia is the only one to implement universal and free vaccination of boys at school, Chen said.
“This is great news for boys in Australia including those that are gay but in other countries the absence of such a program means gay males will miss out on anal cancer prevention,” he said.
Some gay teens might be reluctant to admit their sexuality and ask for the vaccine, he said.
Gay men are no more susceptible to HPV than heterosexual men, but more often have anal infections, Cranston said.
He said doctors can increase awareness and the likelihood that boys will be vaccinated against HPV through conversations with their parents.
Archive for the ‘Gay Health’ Category
Gay teenagers who have had at least four sexual partners are at increased risk of contracting human papillomavirus (HPV), a new study suggests.
A day after being sued by legally married, gay engineers, the nation’s largest freight rail carriers announced they will provide health care benefits to the same-sex spouses of their employees.
Gus Melonas, a spokesman for BNSF Railway Co., read the statement Wednesday from the National Railway Labor Conference to The Associated Press. The conference represents the railroad companies in dealings with labor groups, lawmakers and courts.
Same-sex spouses will be eligible for dependent health care coverage starting Jan. 1, the statement said. “While this it is not a benefit required by law or under current collective bargaining agreements, the railroads agreed with labor to provide the benefit in light of recent changes allowing same sex couples to access same federal tax benefits provided to other married couples,” the conference said.
Two BNSF engineers in Washington state, one man and one woman, sued the company Tuesday over its refusal to provide benefits to their spouses. The federal lawsuit, which alleges violations of the federal Equal Pay Act, seeks class-action status on behalf of any other BNSF employees who may have been denied benefits for their same-sex spouses in a legally recognized marriage. It says the same-sex spouses have been denied benefits provided routinely to those of opposite sex.
A lawyer for the couples, Cleveland Stockmeyer, disagreed with the conference’s statement that benefits for same-sex spouses aren’t required by law or by collective bargaining. The company’s health plan describes eligible dependents as “your husband or wife,” without excluding same-sex spouses, he argued.
Stockmeyer said the railroads’ decision is a good first step but would only partially resolve the lawsuit. The couples still need to be compensated for the financial and emotional drain of spending months without the benefits as they fought BNSF to have the spouses added, he said.
“It shouldn’t take a federal lawsuit to make a national company do the right thing,” Stockmeyer said. “If they tell me or my clients the benefits will be offered, and if they actually do it, we’ll believe it. But they still need to account for denying them benefits for one year.”
The rail conference represents the largest freight carriers in the nation – including units of Norfolk Southern Corp., Union Pacific Corp., CSX Corp. and Berkshire Hathaway Inc.’s BNSF – as well as some smaller railroads. Its statement, reported earlier Wednesday by the Omaha World Herald’s Omaha.com, said employees would receive more information about the same-sex spouse health benefits in the coming weeks.
The industry spends more than $2 billion a year on health care benefits for rail employees, the statement said.
from The Associated Press
For men who worry about their penis size, a new study reveals that all of that anxiety doesn’t actually correlate to whether or not you’re large or small.
Researchers from King’s College in London have found that while some well-endowed men have “penis shame,” lots of men with smaller than average penises feel completely confident. “It’s an emotional feeling,” study leader and psychiatrist David Veale told LiveScience. The findings were published online last week in the Journal of Sexual Medicine.
To reach their findings, researchers recruited 173 men online and at the university to answer a battery of questions about body image, erectile function, and other concerns about their sexual parts. In addition, 46 men agreed to having their penises measured in both flaccid and erect states.
Results showed that 30 percent of the subjects reported dissatisfaction with their genitals, with only 35 percent saying that they were very happy with their penis size. Older men and gay and bisexual men reported higher levels of anxiety regarding their penis size, the findings showed.
Of the less confident men, “quite a few of them have been teased about their size either by an ex-partner or in the showers as an adolescent,” Veal said.
A study published in April in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences found that women prefered larger penises — with a special preference for tall men who were well-endowed.
Research published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine revealed that the average American man’s penis is 14.2 centimeters long when erect.
from The New York Daily News
The U.S. gay-rights movement has achieved many victories in recent years – on marriage, military service and other fronts. Yet one vestige of an earlier, more wary era remains firmly in place: the 30-year-old nationwide ban on blood donations by gay and bisexual men.
Dating from the first years of the AIDS epidemic, the ban is a source of frustration to many gay activists, and also to many leading players in the nation’s health and blood-supply community who have joined in calling for change.
In June, the American Medical Association voted to oppose the policy. AMA board member William Kobler called it “discriminatory and not based on sound science.” Last month, more than 80 members of Congress wrote to the Department of Health and Human Services, criticizing the lifetime ban as an outdated measure that perpetuates inaccurate stereotypes about gay men.
On some college campuses, students have urged boycotts of blood drives until the ban is repealed. Over the summer, activists organized a “National Gay Blood Drive” – asking gay men to visit blood centers, take tests to show their blood was safe, and then try to donate in defiance of the ban.
In the face of such pressure, the Food and Drug Administration – the HHS agency that regulates America’s blood supply – has been unwavering. The lifetime ban will be eased, the FDA says, “only if supported by scientific data showing that a change in policy would not present a significant and preventable risk to blood recipients.”
Under the auspices of HHS, a few studies are in progress that might lay the groundwork for a review of the policy. Department spokeswoman Diane Gianelli said the studies reflect a commitment to “continuously improving the safety and availability of the nation’s blood supply.”
However, some activists are impatient at the prospect of a research process that’s likely to extend over several years with an uncertain outcome. They argue that the U.S. could move now to emulate Spain and Italy, where blanket bans on gay blood donations have been replaced by policies that ban donations by anyone – gay or straight – who’s recently had unsafe sex, while allowing donations from gays and bisexuals whose blood is tested as safe and whose sexual behavior is deemed to pose no risk.
“We do not think HHS is moving fast enough,” said Jason Cianciotto of Gay Men’s Health Crisis, a New York-based nonprofit engaged in AIDS prevention and care.
Cianciotto said the ban “perpetuates the stigma that gay and bisexual men are dangerous to public health,” and thus undercuts efforts to combat HIV.
The FDA says its policy is not intended as a judgment on donors’ sexual orientation, and instead is based on the documented risk of blood infections, such as HIV, associated with male-to-male sex.
According to the FDA, men who have had sex with other men represent about 2 percent of the U.S. population, yet accounted for at least 61 percent of all new HIV infections in the U.S. in 2010.
The FDA implemented the ban in 1983, when health officials were first recognizing the risk of contracting AIDS via blood transfusions. Under the policy, blood donations are barred from any man who has had sex with another man at any time since 1977 – the start of the AIDS epidemic in the U.S.
Critics say the policy has been rendered obsolete by advances in testing which can which can detect HIV – the virus that causes AIDS – within days of infection.
Some critics say the lifetime ban could be replaced with a policy barring blood donations on the basis of gay sex within the past 12 months, or the past five years – as Canada recently decided to do. Others say there should be no set time periods, and that the screenings – as in Spain and Italy – should focus on high-risk behaviors of both gay and straight people, while making it easier for gays in monogamous, safe-sex relationships to qualify as donors.
“It’s very personal to a lot of people who would like to donate and yet are barred while knowing themselves not to be at risk,” said Brian Moulton, legal director of the Human Rights Campaign, a national gay-rights group.
“People perceive of giving blood as a civic duty,” Moulton added. “The current policy puts gay and bisexual men who are going to be honest in an awkward position during a blood drive. People ask, `Why aren’t you giving blood?’”
The FDA acknowledges that the ban leads to rejection of many healthy donors.
However, it says the policy “minimizes even the small risk of getting infectious diseases such as HIV or hepatitis through a blood transfusion.” And it says the blood supply in the U.S. has been stable.
Susan Stramer, executive scientific officer with the American Red Cross, agrees that the magnitude of the blood supply isn’t a decisive factor in the debate.
“We have a surplus of blood,” she said. “The question is about what’s equitable.”
The push for changing the policy gained momentum in 2006, when the Red Cross, the American Association of Blood Banks, and America’s Blood Centers reported to an FDA-sponsored workshop that the ban “is medically and scientifically unwarranted.”
Over the next few years, the California State Assembly and the city councils in New York and Washington, D.C., urged repeal of the ban.
Faced with such appeals, HHS sought input in 2010 from its Advisory Committee for Blood Safety and Availability. The committee concluded that the donor-screening policy is “suboptimal” – permitting some potentially high risk donations while preventing some low risk donations – but recommended that the ban on donations by gay and bisexual men be retained pending further research.
In March 2012, HHS asked for comments on a possible pilot study to assess alternatives that would permit some gay and bisexual men to donate blood while maintaining the current high level of blood safety. That study has yet to begin.
Regardless of the pilot study’s fate, Stramer said it’s possible federal officials could gather enough data from other ongoing research to make an incremental change, such as emulating Canada by barring donors who’ve had male-on-male sex during the previous five years.
Symptoms of so-called “male menopause” may be triggered not only by declines in testosterone, but in the female hormone estrogen as well, according to a new study in the New England Journal of Medicine.
The study of 400 men ages 20 to 50 found that estrogen in men is important for keeping fat down and testosterone is important for muscle size and strength — and that both are involved with sexual desire, Dr. Abraham Morgentaler, an associate clinical professor of urology at Harvard Medical School, explained on “CBS This Morning.”
When researchers lowered estrogen in the study, men got more body fat and when estrogen was higher, they had less body fat. And as for sexual function, the combination of testosterone and estrogen was much better for sexual desire and functioning than testosterone alone.
“What this study showed is what happens between testosterone and estrogen in the male body,” Morgentaler said. “As testosterone levels go down as men get older, estrogen levels go down, too. Estrogen actually comes from testosterone in men. And when it goes down, we have two problems then with the low testosterone and low estrogen. It affects sex drive, muscle, fat.”
So should men be taking estrogen, as some men take supplements for low testosterone?
Morgentaler said, “The good news is men don’t have to take more than one thing because, if you have low testosterone and we treat you with testosterone, some of that actually turns into estrogen, so we actually get both of the effects. And what we got out of the study is we finally were able to separate out what each part was doing, what testosterone was doing and what estrogen was doing.
He continued, “The thing that really blows me away is this idea that estrogen, the female hormone, is necessary for guys and sex drive. You need certain amounts of (estrogen) for it to work. So maybe men and women, maybe we’re not so different after all.”
from CBS News
A study Monday measuring fathering habits and testicle size suggested that bigger may not be better when it comes to the day-to-day raising of small children.
The research involved 70 men of varying ethnicities — most were Caucasian, five were Asian and 15 were African-American. All were the fathers of children aged one to two.
The larger the volume of their testes, the less the men were involved in daily parenting activities like changing diapers, said the study by researchers at Emory University in Georgia.
In comparison, men with smaller testes showed more nurturing activity in the brain when shown pictures of their children, and also were more involved in their children’s upbringing, according to surveys answered separately by both the fathers and their female partners.
All the men in the study were aged 21-55 and lived with the biological mothers of their children. Most were married.
“I wouldn’t want to say that men with large testes are always bad fathers but our data show a tendency for them to be less involved in things like changing diapers, bathing children, preparing meals, taking them to the doctor and things like that,” said lead author James Rilling, an associate professor of anthropology.
The study sought to test an evolutionary theory that holds that people and animals are either built to breed or to nurture.
The findings support the notion that human beings have a limited amount of energy to invest in reproductive efforts — so either they put energy into producing offspring or into raising it.
“If you invest more energy in parenting you have less available for mating and vice versa,” explained Rilling.
Since the testes are where sperm is made, and their size can be linked to the amount produced, the researchers said their study is unique and the first of its kind.
Previous studies have shown a link between high testosterone levels and lower parental involvement as well as divorce and infidelity. The Emory team also analyzed testosterone levels and found the same inverse relationship to parental involvement in their study.
“Other people have looked at testosterone and parental behavior but as far as we know we are the first to look at testes size and parental behavior and we think we are getting at something different,” said Rilling.
“We are suggesting that men with larger testes are more built for a mating effort strategy and as a consequence are less built for investing in children.”
Researchers used functional MRI scans to analyze brain activity when the men were shown pictures of their toddlers and also of strangers’ children.
To assess the men’s daily parenting involvement with their young children, scientists asked the men and their female partners to separately fill out questionnaires.
The volume of the testes was measured in a voluntary MRI scan, to which 55 of the 70 men agreed.
Still, the researchers could not say for sure whether testes size caused the difference in fathering behavior, or if perhaps the act of becoming a father might have caused the testes to shrink in some men.
Urologist Joseph Aluka, who was not involved in the research, said he commonly sees men with smaller testes in a certain context.
“The guy who comes in with smaller testes is more likely to have greater difficulty with getting his wife pregnant,” Aluka, an assistant professor at New York University Urology Associates, told AFP.
If such men end up being more involved as parents, “maybe these guys struggled to have kids and appreciate the experience a little bit more,” Aluka said.
“I wouldn’t be surprised if just a few participants in this study fundamentally affected their data because it is a small study,” said Aluka, describing the findings as “a stretch.”
The study appeared in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
from The New York Daily News
The AIDS Healthcare Foundation sued Los Angeles County, claiming three of its officials falsely accused it of overbilling $1.7 million, to punish the group for its advocacy of the condoms-for-porn-actors law, and for blowing the whistle on county mismanagement of AIDS funding.
The AIDS Healthcare Foundation and its president Michael Weinstein sued Los Angeles County, Department of Public Health directors Dr. Jonathan Fielding and Mario Perez, and County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky, in Superior Court.
Weinstein made similar claims against Los Angeles County in a federal lawsuit last December.
In July, the foundation asked a federal judge to enjoin the county from auditing it, claiming the audit would interfere with patient care. That request was denied on July 19.
Voters approved Measure B, the Safer Sex in Adult Industry Act, in the November 2012 general election. The law requires porn actors to wear condoms. Pornography filmmakers in Los Angeles County also must take blood-borne pathogen training to reduce the spread of sexually transmitted diseases.
The San Fernando Valley is a center of the pornography industry.
Porn producers must pay a fee to the L.A. County Department of Public Health for a film permit. Film permits may be revoked if actors or producers violate the law.
The AIDS Healthcare Foundation was the official advocate of the ballot measure and in April this year intervened in a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the law, which the foundation claims the county does not want to enforce.
In the new lawsuit, Weinstein claims the foundation is paying the price for its “advocacy positions,” and criticism of county officials’ misuse of federal funds.
“Defendants’ retaliatory conduct includes a conspiracy to create incorrect audit findings and demand millions of dollars from AHF [AIDS Healthcare Foundation] based upon these findings, and defendants’ discussion of these incorrect audit findings in front of other providers and the public at large,” the lawsuit states. “Defendants carry out these practices in order to intimidate providers into submission and prevent them from speaking out critically against the county.”
In his dense, 45-page complaint, Weinstein admonishes the county for claiming the foundation had overbilled L.A. County by $1.7 million. Compared to other providers, the county directs “frequent and invasive” audits of the foundation, Weinstein says.
The Health Resource Services Administration distributes federal funds under the Ryan White Comprehensive AIDS Resource Emergency Act. The AIDS Healthcare Foundation has contracted with the county since the late 1990s to provide patient services.
Weinstein claims that the county misuses those funds, cutting off vital services to patients and favoring health care providers who make campaign contributions to county officials.
In 2009, the county reallocated $1.2 million to the Tarzana Treatment Center after cutting off funding for the foundation’s organization in the Antelope Valley, where it still operates at a loss, according to Weinstein.
“Tarzana had less experience than AHF and other providers in the area at treating HIV/AIDS. However, many of the principals of Tarzana are significant campaign contributors to Yaroslavsky,” the lawsuit states.
The county did not look at competing bids last year when in a single day it pushed through a $75 million contract for a private pharmacy administrator called Ramsell, Weinstein says in the complaint.
The foundation sued the county in Superior Court for violating competitive bidding rules, and won a judgment invalidating the contract in June 2012 – a move that angered county officials, according to the complaint.
Weinstein claims that as the foundation campaigned for Measure B in the November 2012 general election campaign, county officials “ramped up their threats,” demanding the foundation pay the $1.7 million within two weeks.
“Defendants’ actions have injured AHF Michael Weinstein, and their mission of providing quality care to those with HIV/AIDS,” the complaint states.
The AIDS Healthcare Foundation seeks an injunction and general, compensatory, special and punitive damages for violations of the California Constitution and the California Whistleblower Act.
It is represented by house attorney Samantha Azulay.
from Courthouse News
The FDA has not allowed gay and bisexual men to donate blood since 1983. On Friday, supporters of lifting the sweeping ban participated in the first national gay blood drive to give federal regulators an idea of how much blood this policy is costing them.
The peaceful demonstration called for otherwise eligible donors who fall into the men who have sex with men (MSM) category to head to a designated donation center and attempt to give blood with a paper copy of their negative HIV status in hand.
Although they were turned away, the participants’ names were still added to a list sent to the FDA. Activists hope the sudden influx of rejected donors will give the agency a picture of how much blood the gay community could provide if they were allowed.
“The ban is outdated, and as a result, countless otherwise eligible gay and bisexual men are unable to contribute to the nation’s blood supply and help save lives,” Ryan James Yezak, a filmmaker who organized the event, said in a press release.
Yezak planned to film the drive in Los Angeles for his upcoming documentary, “Second Class Citizens,” which is about sexual orientation-based discrimination, CBS News reported.
About 30 gay and bisexual men showed up at the New York Blood Center on Manhattan’s Upper East Side on Friday. New York volunteer point person Sam Gavzy, 26, told the Daily News that he spoke to the center ahead of time to explain that they weren’t there to disrupt anything.
“They were actually really supportive of what we were doing,” he said. “I know they’re in a tough place at these individual centers because their objective is to have as much of a blood supply as possible, but they still have to abide by the mandated policies.”
The FDA explained on its website that the “deferral policy is based on the documented increased risk of certain transfusion transmissible infections, such as HIV, associated with male-to-male sex and is not based on any judgment concerning the donor’s sexual orientation.”
Gay and bisexual men only make up 2% of the population, but an estimated 77% of diagnosed HIV infections in males were attributed to male-to-male sexual contact, according to the FDA.
However, other organizations are starting to take a stand against the FDA’s exclusion of an entire group. In June, the American Medical Association voted that the FDA should lift the lifetime ban, saying it is “discriminatory and not based on sound science.”
Richard Benjamin, chief medical officer for the American Red Cross, previously pointed out to CBS News that similar risk behaviors (i.e. a woman who has had sex with someone known to have HIV) had a 12-month deferral, while any man who as sex with a man is deferred for life.
The AABB (formerly known as the American Association of Blood Banks), America’s Blood Centers and the American Red Cross issued a joint statement saying they supported a policy change and that “donor deferral criteria should be made comparable with criteria for other behaviors that pose an increased risk for transmission of transfusion-transmitted infections.”
“There’s been pressure on the professional medical side, so now is the opportune time to build up the cultural and societal pressure,” Gavzy said. “Now is the time for people to really feel strongly about this.”
from The New York Daily News
Bryan Piperno was just 9 years old when he began keeping his secret.
The Simi Valley youngster tossed out lunches or claimed he ate elsewhere. As he grew older, he started purging after eating. Even after his vomiting landed him in the emergency room during college, he lied to hide the truth.
Piperno, now 25, slowly fended off his eatin gdisorder with time and care, including a stay in a residential treatment facility. But surveys show a rising number of teenage boys in Los Angeles now struggle with similar problems.
High school boys in Los Angeles are twice as likely to induce vomiting or use laxatives to control their weight as the national average, with 5.2% of those surveyed saying they had recently done so, according to the most recent survey data gathered by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Los Angeles Unified School District. They are also more likely to have used diet pills, powders or liquids than boys nationwide.
The numbers challenge old assumptions that boys are immune to a problem better known to afflict teenage girls. Girls still exceed boys in fasting to lose weight, but the latest data, from 2011, showed that Los Angeles boys were nearly as likely as girls to purge through vomiting or laxatives. They were also as likely as girls to use diet pills, powders or liquids without the advice of a doctor — 6.2% said they recently used such substances, compared with 6.1% of girls.
Some experts say boys are starting to face the pressures long placed on girls, as buff, bare men proliferate in pop culture. Boys today watch Channing Tatum strip as “Magic Mike” or weigh themselves against the muscular Dwayne Johnson. The nonstop chatter of Twitter and Facebook has amplified those messages, therapists say.
“Boys are growing up now with the billboard of the guy with perfect pecs and biceps,” said Roberto Olivardia, a clinical instructor in the Harvard Medical School psychiatry department. “You just didn’t see that years ago.”
Teenage boys say abs are prized and ogled. Andrew Shrout, a 19-year-old junior at UC Berkeley, said boys felt they needed to be very lean at his former high school in Long Beach. “Men are pressured to have as little fat as possible — but you’ve got to pretend like you don’t watch what you eat,” Shrout said.
He decided to lose weight for his health but also because another guy on the water polo team used to grab his stomach and jiggle it. “I can see why a lot of younger kids get sucked into a vortex and end up doing bad things,” Shrout said.
Steroid use is also on the rise among Los Angeles teen boys, the survey found, with roughly one out of 20 saying they have used steroids — only a slightly smaller percentage than those who had recently turned to diet pills, powders or liquids.
Sports can pile on more pressure. Wrestlers, for instance, often aim to lose enough weight to grapple with lighter opponents. For some competitors, throwing up or downing laxatives can be a gateway to a disorder that lasts beyond the sporting event, said Dawn Theodore, clinical director of the Eating Disorder Center of California in Brentwood.
Los Angeles isn’t the only city where boys have been increasingly likely to purge or turn to diet substances, with higher-than-average rates also seen in Chicago, Houston, Charlotte, N.C., and elsewhere. Government estimates show that the number of males hospitalized for eating disorders rose 53% between 1999 and 2009. Some experts say they are unsure whether more boys and men are in fact suffering such disorders or whether more are now willing to seek help.
Females remain much more likely to be hospitalized for eating disorders than boys and men, who made up 12% of such hospital stays as of four years ago, the government estimates show. However, researchers say that because men fear coming forward, the rates among males might be higher than the numbers suggest.
When they finally get help, the boys’ cases “tend to be especially severe,” said clinical psychologist Jennifer Henretty, who directs intensive outpatient programs at the Center for Discovery, a national system of eating disorder programs headquartered in Orange County. “People don’t look until it’s really out of hand.”
Experts say part of the problem is that traditional methods of detecting disorders were made with girls and women in mind.
Benjamin O’Keefe, 18, remembers Googling the word “anorexia” and finding a website that said it halts menstruation. “There was nothing targeted at me,” said O’Keefe, who struggled with the disorder in high school in Florida.
He exercised constantly and sometimes ate only a cheese sandwich for days at a time. He suffered massive headaches, slept incessantly and fainted onstage while rehearsing for a play.
While he weakened, “people were saying, ‘Wow, you look great,’ ” O’Keefe remembered.
He began talking about his past struggle with anorexia upon launching a petition earlier this year urging Abercrombie & Fitch — known for its shirtless models — to carry larger sizes.
Men who battled anorexia or bulimia as teens told The Times that other problems often drove their disorders. Piperno, the Simi Valley man, said it began as a way of exerting control over his body after suffering sexual abuse.
Matthew, a 20-year-old in the Pasadena area, first avoided eating to “numb out” the alcoholism of his father and stepmother.
“It’s not about the body,” said Matthew, who spoke with The Times on condition that his last name not be used. “It’s a mental issue — it just manifests itself through the body.”
As awareness has grown, more recovery programs have begun accepting men: Leigh Cohn, a Carlsbad writer and publisher of books on eating disorders, said his analysis of advertisements in his resource catalog showed that the share of treatment facilities that admit men jumped from 35% to 69% between 2000 and 2013. Yet families say it is still hard to find help for boys.
When a family near Griffith Park grew worried about their son, a skinny middle-schooler who refused breakfast and ran constantly, their doctor waved it off, saying he seemed fit. The family, which spoke to The Times on the condition of anonymity, later sent the son to a center where he was the only teenage boy. “I couldn’t really relate to anyone,” the boy said.
After switching programs, he met other boys and began to recover. Matthew ended up crossing the country for a residential program where men were all on the same floor with their own therapist.
California middle and high school health classes cover eating disorders, but the increases may be a sign that more tailored lessons are needed, said Lori Vollandt, Los Angeles Unified health education programs coordinator. “This is probably something we need to look at further,” she said.
from The Los Angeles Times
People traveling to New York City for Gay Pride events over the June 28-30 weekend are being told to seek advice about vaccination for invasive meningococcal disease, in a report released Monday in the Annals of Internal Medicine.
Doctors from Weill Cornell Medical College and the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene are raising the alarm in the article due to a deadly bacterial meningitis outbreak affecting men who have sex with other men.
Since August of 2010, New York health authorities have received reports of 22 cases of the disease among gay men or men who have had intimate encounters with other men. Seven of these men have died, a rate of death significantly higher than that found in the general population where meningitis kills between 10 and 14 percent patients, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Among 12 men infected with HIV who also came down with meningococcal disease, five died.
Last year, “meningococcal incidence among NYC [men who have sex with men] was 50-fold greater than the age-adjusted rate for the general population,” the paper stated.
Los Angeles has also seen cases among the gay community, four since last December. There have also been two previous outbreaks in Toronto and Chicago in 2001 and 2003 respectively. Out of 12 cases in those two cities, 42 percent died.
Many people carry the bacteria that causes meningitis, Neisseria meningitides, in their noses and throats. Among children, the rate of colonization with the bacteria can be as high as 37 percent.
But most don’t suffer any consequences. The current rate of invasive disease is tiny, between 0.3 and 0.6 cases for every 100,000 people, according to the Annals report.
For those who do wind up sick, the consequences can be severe. The bacteria invades the linings of the brain and spinal cord, leading to disability, hearing loss or brain damage, or death. It can also enter the bloodstream and cause septicemia.
Fortunately, there’s a vaccine – the CDC recommends that all 11 and 12 year olds be vaccinated — which is why the doctors decided to issue their warning, now, just before Gay Pride weekend celebrations.
“It would be reasonable for people traveling to New York City and participating in the events to talk to their doctors about whether or not they might benefit from vaccinations,” Dr. Jay Varma, deputy commissioner for disease control in the city’s Department of Health and Mental Hygiene told NBCNews.com.
The city saw one case in 2010, 4 cases in 2011, and 13 in 2012. In October of last year, New York mounted a vaccine campaign targeting gay media, bars, and communities. The drive seems to have succeeded. Although four cases were reported to authorities earlier this year, there have been no cases in the last four months, Varma said.
Los Angeles, which has seen four cases among men who have sex with men, does not currently recommend a vaccine drive, but suggests that “concerned individuals consult their personal health care provider to discuss prevention options, including vaccination.” Los Angeles is offering free vaccines at clinics around the county. Providers in San Diego have been advised to talk to their patients who are traveling to the Gay Pride events about the vaccine recommendation in NYC, according to Dr. Eric McDonald, deputy health officer for the county of San Diego .
Following the HIV epidemic that began in the early 1980s, social systems for alerting gay men to health issues became well established. But many men have sex with men “on the down low,” Varma explained, and “in black and Hispanic communities, where there’s a stigma around sexual identity, we face challenges getting the message out. These are groups that don’t necessarily read gay media or websites.”
That the outbreak has struck younger men between ages 20 and 40 is another problem since they may not often see a doctor.
Experts are puzzled by the bacteria’s virulence and deadliness. The strain involved belongs to serogroup C (there are also A, B, Y, and W-135 strains), which is a typical strain for North America.
“The mortality rates from this strain is higher than is typically seen nationally,” Weill Cornell’s Dr. Matthew Simon, one of the article’s authors, said. “We don’t know for sure why.”
Having a compromised immune system due to HIV infection is one obvious reason, but, Simon explained, “it’s a high mortality rate without HIV, too. What are the underlying microbiological reasons for that? At this point there’s not a good answer.”
from NBC News
LOS ANGELES – In an effort to quash any fears of a patterned outbreak, Los Angeles County health officials said a fatal case of meningitis found this month is not connected to any others across the country.
“Public Health has not identified any other cases of meningococcal disease associated with this patient, nor identified any linkage between this patient and cases being reported in other areas of the country,” according to a news release from the Department of Public Health.
Officials hope the report puts to rest questions about whether the death of a 33-year-old lawyer from West Hollywood, diagnosed with meningitis this month, was connected to a strain of the disease found over the last couple of years in New York City.
The outbreak of a particular strain in New York, primarily among gay men, has infected nearly two dozen people and killed seven. And the death of West Hollywood resident Brett Shaad this year and other cases last year prompted concern among some health advocates that a possible outbreak could have started in L.A. County.
While some called those reports alarmist, West Hollywood City Councilman John Duran and the AIDS Healthcare Foundation pursued the issue aggressively. The organization started offering free meningitis vaccines and called on the county to do the same. Health officials eventually did so for low-income and uninsured residents.
Duran said Monday that although the county’s results show there is no current outbreak, he wishes officials would be more proactive about the issue. He wants them to focus on prevention and continue offering free vaccines.
“Someone will die of meningitis in the next three months and it won’t be one of the 3,000″ who were recently vaccinated, Duran said.
The L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center also issued a statement Monday, saying that it was “relieved” the county had “determined the most recent case of meningitis is unrelated to earlier cases among gay men in New York and Los Angeles and that there is no outbreak among gay/bi men here.”
“We’re also pleased that DPH is on high alert and will advise us of any new cases so we can keep the community informed,” spokesman Jim Key said.
The county health department describes meningitis as “a rare infection of the lining of the brain and the spinal cord” that is “spread by very close exposure to sneezing and coughing or direct contact with” saliva or nasal mucus. The disease is generally rare and harder to catch than the common cold but can be deadly.
L.A. County averages about 25 cases of meningitis annually, health officials said. In the news release, they said that “even with prompt treatment, the mortality rate is 10% to 15%.”
Symptoms may include a stiff neck, fever, severe headaches, an altered mental state and low blood pressure.
County officials also described how they came to their findings and said they first compared the strain of bacteria from the case in April to others in the county.
Though they found that some of the recent cases in L.A. County were all part of a sub grouping that included some similar cases of men who had a history of sexual contact with other men, officials ultimately determined that “a preliminary reading of the genetic fingerprints … shows it is not highly related to other cases in Los Angeles County, Southern California, or New York City.”
from The Los Angeles Times
Two More Men Died From Meningitis Last Year
Health Experts Address Meningitis Death Of Gay Man
CHINA – A porn addict who inserted a live eel up his backside had to endure an all-night operation – after it got STUCK.
The man – from southern China – preformed the bizarre act after seeing it done in a kinky blue movie.
But the unmarried man had to rush himself to a hospital casualty unit in Guangdong province telling medics: “Please, please help me. The eel is moving through my body.”
Surgeons finally removed the 20-inch long Asian swamp eel – which weighed more than half-a-kilo – in the early hours of the morning after a lengthy treatment with drugs and medical probes.
One of the medical team explained: “The eel was simply trying to find its way out.”
“It was still alive when we got it out but it died soon afterwards, which was probably a mercy.
“This was a particularly idiotic stunt and could have caused him a serious injury. Eels have small but very sharp teeth,” they added.
A police spokesman said: “We are aware of what happened and a 39-year-old man will be interviewed over alleged animal cruelty.”
from The Sun
CALIFORNIA – Two more men died from bacterial meningitis late last year, according to the AIDS Healthcare Foundation.
The organization said Tuesday that a 30-year-old Los Angeles man and a 30-year-old San Diego student both died in December from the disease.
Public health officials have not said whether the cases were the same strain as the one that caused the death of a 33-year-old West Hollywood lawyer last weekend. State officials said they were investigating the additional deaths and would report their findings if bacterial meningitis is confirmed.
The death of West Hollywood resident Brett Shaad, who died less than a week after becoming ill, has prompted concern among some health advocates that a possible outbreak of the contagious disease may have started.
An outbreak in New York, primarily among gay men, has infected nearly two dozen people and killed seven people in recent years. Officials do not yet know whether the cases in New York are related to the local one.
“We came before you a couple of days ago to say that we’re here to raise an alert and not an alarm,” said Michael Weinstein, president of the AIDS Healthcare Foundation. “And that’s still the case,” he said, adding that it is unclear what, if any, connections there are among the cases in Southern California and New York City.
Nevertheless, he and West Hollywood City Councilman John Duran criticized Los Angeles County for not being more proactive about the issue or the potential for an outbreak, and said the county should be more forthcoming with information.
Officials from the county’s Department of Public Health did not immediately return phone calls and emails Tuesday. But in a health advisory posted on the agency’s website earlier in the week, they said: “At this point in the investigation, Public Health has not identified any other cases of meningococcal meningitis associated with this patient, nor identified any linkage between this patient and outbreaks that have been reported in other areas of the country.”
The agency says meningococcal meningitis disease “is a rare infection of the lining of the brain and the spinal cord” and is “spread by very close exposure to sneezing and coughing or direct contact with” saliva or nasal mucus. While it is generally rare, and harder to catch than the common cold, meningitis can be deadly.
from The Los Angeles Times
Health Experts Address Meningitis Death Of Gay Man
Health experts worked hard Sunday to defuse fears of a national epidemic among gay men after a Sacramento native died Saturday from a lethal strain of bacterial meningitis that has claimed seven lives in New York City this year.
Brett Shaad, a 33-year-old commercial and real estate lawyer, had just resigned his job in Los Angeles to run a nonprofit seeking to prevent suicide by getting mental health care to those who couldn’t afford it, said family spokeswoman Elizabeth Ashford. “He also planned to work on his brother Brian’s organic farm in Natomas, Feeding Crane Farms.”
haad was declared legally brain dead from the disease Friday. His family took him off life support at Cedars-Sinai hospital in Los Angeles on Saturday night.
“The doctors don’t know where or how Brett contracted meningitis,” Ashford said.
The 1997 graduate of Jesuit High School was “an incredibly generous person who was adored by his many friends and our family,” said his brother, Brian Shaad. “He had the biggest heart, and a deep passion for social justice.”
Thirteen cases of bacterial meningitis in gay men in New York have been reported this year, including seven deaths. But health experts discounted concerns about an epidemic among gay men.
“This is not a disease transmittable mainly by sexual contact,” said Dr. Parveen Kaur of the AIDS Healthcare Foundation. “It’s spread by respiratory droplets, which means you can be sitting and having a prolonged conversation with somebody and spread the disease without having sex. It can also be transmitted through saliva and intimate activities.”
Shaad lived in West Hollywood and friends said he was in good health. He reportedly attended a gathering of about 10,000 gay men known as the White Party in Palm Springs two weeks ago. But so far, no one else at the party has contracted the disease, Kaur said.
Anything that ties Shaad’s death to the party “is just conjecture,” Ashford said.
Bacterial meningitis inflames the covering of the brain and spinal chord, Kaur said.
The disease usually starts with a fever, rapidly followed by an intense headache with increased sensitivity to light followed by neck stiffness and a rash, Kaur said. “Out of 100 cases, 10 to 15 people will die, and 11 to 20 will have hearing loss, mental retardation and other neurological damage.”
Many people who have bacterial meningitis “are asymptomatic carriers who themselves are not ill,” said Dr. Otto Yang, a UCLA medical professor and expert on infectious diseases. “This is extremely preventable with vaccinations: People who were in contact with the person who died should seriously consider it.”
Los Angeles County officials have not determined whether Shaad was afflicted with the same strain that killed gay men in New York, Ashford said.
Shaad, who graduated from Boston College and attended Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law in New York, would take long weekend trips abroad with friends, to destinations as far flung as Colombia, Brazil, Hawaii and Asia, Ashford said. “He’d been to China in the two weeks prior to his death.”
When he became ill, he resigned from his job to focus more on Feeding Crane Farms. He also planned to start a nonprofit with a friend to get mental help to people who either couldn’t afford it or were afraid to seek help because of the social stigma, Ashford said. “He wanted to help prevent suicides.”
from The Sacramento Bee
Gay and lesbian couples living together report poorer health than straight married couples, U.S. researchers said on Wednesday, speculating that legalizing same-sex marriage could reduce the disparities.
Studies have shown that married couples enjoy better health than people who are single, divorced or separated.
When Dr Hui Liu, an assistant professor of sociology at Michigan State University, and her team studied the health of gay and straight couples, they found marriage made a difference.
“When we controlled for socioeconomic status, the odds of reporting poor or fair health were about 61 percent higher for same-sex cohabiting men than for men in heterosexual marriage, and the odds of reporting poor to fair health were about 46 percent higher for same-sex cohabiting women than for women in heterosexual marriages,” Liu said.
Although the researchers did not study the impact of legalizing gay marriage, Liu said it is plausible that if gay unions were sanctioned by law it could improve health by reducing stress and discrimination and providing health benefits enjoyed by married couples.
“If marriage can promote health, it is reasonable for us to expect that if same-sex couples had the advantage of legalized marriage their health may be boosted,” Liu added in an interview.
Nine U.S. states and Washington, D.C., have legalized same-sex marriage, assuring gay couples the benefits of a legalized union.
The researchers compared the health of 1,659 gay couples living together and a similar number of married heterosexuals. They pooled data from 1997 to 2009 National Health Interview Surveys in which people across the country were asked to rate their overall health as excellent, very good, good, fair or poor.
The study, which is published in the Journal of Health and Social Behavior, showed that black women living together as a couple were the most disadvantaged. They reported worse health than any other non-married black women.
Liu and her co-authors, Corinne Reczek an assistant professor of sociology at the University of Cincinnati, and Dustin Brown, a post-graduate student at the University of Texas at Austin, suggest that the discrimination and stress that gay couples experience could contribute to their poorer health.
“Legalizing same-sex marriage could also provide other advantages often associated with heterosexual marriage – such as partner health insurance benefits and the ability to file joint tax returns – that may directly or indirectly influence the health of individuals in same-sex unions,” Liu added.