The Gay and Lesbian Medical Association, founded in 1981, has a staff of LGBT physicians, medical students and other supporters in all 50 states and 12 countries. GLMA works not only to treat HIV positive patients, but also works to fight against homophobia within the practice of medicine.
Originally, GLMA worked to serve only physicians, residents and medical students. In 2002 the mission was changed to serve the needs of all kinds of health care providers. GLMA encompasses a wide range of medical practices from internal medicine, psychiatry and pediatrics among others. The organization is based out of San Francisco, California.
The New York Times ran an article in Dec. 1994 on whether the American Medical Association or AMA sought to bring a greater understanding of LGBT patients, and claimed that health care has enhanced “the physician’s nonjudgmental recognition of sexual orientation and behavior.”
GLMA gives advice on 10 things that gay men should ask their health care providers. Many of the questions overlap with straight men, including risks for depression, cardiovascular health and health history. Some questions are more specific on hormones affecting behavior and risks for HIV-AIDS and how to be safe.
The American Cancer Society has also worked with GLMA and other LGBT supportive medical organizations to educate the community on tobacco and health factors related to smoking with pamphlets and advertisements directed toward education.
While HIV and AIDS may be of high concern for the LGBT community, they are not and should not be the only need or focus of their health care providers. According to a report from Reuters in Sept. 2009, a number of LGBT teens are becoming more likely to purge or binge-eat before their heterosexual peers.
Being unable at this point to see where health care may go during the coming months, it seems as though universal health care may pose a challenge for the LGBT community in this country, at least for those who disclose their sexual orientation or conditions to their healt hcare providers. Support systems like GLMA would seem to be there regardless of whatever the change, but being unable to choose the doctors or physicians who have built a relationship with their clients may be forever lost. The next logical step seems to be increased education in the medical profession to fit the needs of LGBT patients more thoroughly, as well as continued research and advocacy to issues beyond just HIV and AIDS.