The Center for the Study of Equality and Human Rights at Eastern Michigan University hosted a lecture in McKenny Hall Thursday titled, “Promoting Equal Rates for STI Testing for LGBT Individuals.” The lecture highlighted how people perceive advertisements of Sexually Transmitted Infections testing for the LGBT community, confidential testing and communication between partners.
EMU assistant professor of psychology, Natalie Dove, and doctorate student in social psychology from the University of Nevada Reno, Randal Brown, presented the lecture.
Brown began the lecture discussing how STIs are currently a very prevalent problem in the U.S. He said the Center for Disease Control estimates over 20,000,000 cases of STIs happen each year.
“That’s a big deal,” he said. “Half of these statistics are represented by young people who are ages 15 to 24. Our friends, our neighbors, our significant others are really the ones who driving a lot of this statistic. STIs can lead to some serious complications if not treated or managed.”
Brown said that STI treatment cost 16 billion dollars in the U.S. alone per year.
“That’s a lot,” he said. “It’s harming your health; it’s harming your wellness.”
Brown also said that LGBT people have been traditionally misrepresented when it comes to STI statistics. He gave a slide slow presentation on some statistics of STIs and the differences with heterosexual males and females, and those of the LGBT community.
“Anyone can become infected,” he said. “But it is very clear that there is a misrepresentation.”
Brown said data shows men who have sex with other men represent 75 percent of all new syphilis cases.
Brown also said that men who have sex with men could mean a lot of things: anyone who is gay, male who is bisexual and heterosexual men who have had sexual experiences with men.
A slide representing primary and secondary syphilis cases showed that from 2007 to 2012, rates remained the same with no decrease or increase. From 2012, however, there has been an increase.
“What does that say to us as researchers?” Brown said. “Problem.”
He also talked about the percentages in various cities of primary and secondary syphilis co-occurring with HIV infections. In Birmingham in 2012, about 70-75 percent of co-occurring syphilis with HIV diagnosis took place with men who have sex with men. He said that other major cities, like
Seattle and San Francisco, were in the 50 to 60 percent range.
Brown said even the chlamydia and gonorrhea diagnosis in 2012 represented the same scenario. In 1990, the percentage of men who have sex with men, only represented about 5 percent of gonorrhea cases.
“Again, we slowly increased until 2012 with about 27 percent,” Brown said.
From a CDC slide, Brown said that in 2010 there was a disturbing increase in HIV diagnosis between white, black and Hispanic men who have sex with men.
From their research, Brown said that there is a recurring theme, especially from the CDC, that the LGBT community and those particular cases are recorded most often than any other.
Brown also said that the possibilities on why this is so could be the obvious reasons: unprotected sex with the partner or multiple partners, but it could also mean social and cultural factors also play a role.
Natalie Dove said the research from this year focused more on giving out more knowledge about STIs, especially to the LGBT community and STI screenings. Dove also said that the research focused on more ways for good communication with partners about safer sex.
Dove also said different advertisements have been created to get more of the LGBT community to get tested and informed, whether a person is in a casual or a committed relationship.
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