As part of #LBWomensHealth17, the team at the LGBT Foundation want to talk to you about Hepatitis B.
Visiting the doctors is awkward. It often takes a lot of effort and emotional strength to ask for what we need. That’s only amplified when those services seem to question our very identities. As our report showed, lesbian and bisexual (LB) women still face homophobia, biphobia and transphobia when they access health services. And whilst we’ll continue to campaign for better awareness and understanding from health practitioners, we need to be able to access services now.
Hepatitis B is on the rise in the LGBTQ community, and it can be easily avoided1. Three vaccines, taken within 4 to 6 months, provides protection from what can be a pretty nasty infection. The vaccine is free for what the NHS identifies as ‘at-risk’ groups, you can see what these groups are on the NHS website: http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/vaccinations/Pages/hepatitis-b-vaccine.aspx
Some of these at-risk groups may involve LB women and particularly LB trans women. The important thing is that if you think you might be at risk, you have the right to access the vaccine, for free. Most GPs should provide the vaccine if you mention it to them. However, as the report showed, GPs will often make assumptions about your identity and sex life and this could affect whether or not they think you are eligible for the vaccine. This is often the case for lesbian, bisexual and trans women, and particularly trans L or B women!
The good news if you do find that your GP is being resistant to you accessing the vaccine but you feel you are at risk, is that there are other options. It’s not always easy to change surgeries, depending on where you live, though you can request another GP from the same practice. What’s more, there are independent clinics that provide the vaccination. If for example you are struggling with transphobia around sexual health services, CliniQ in Soho, London, is a trans-friendly clinic where staff are incredibly well-trained to understand trans peoples’ needs. Trans-specific clinics also exist in Brighton and Birmingham.
If you want any help finding supportive GPs, or if you want help challenging your GP if they’re refusing you the vaccine, get in touch, and we’ll do our best to help.
Try calling the LGBT Foundation helpline on 0161 330 3030 or check out our website at www.lgbt.foundation
During National Lesbian and Bisexual Women’s Health week, Birmingham LGBT will be hosting a Health and Wellbeing Fair for LGBT women to highlight all the different services available at Birmingham LGBT for women. They’ll also be heading out to the pub, and offering sexual health testing while they’re there!
Blogs & a night out with a difference
Andréa Willinger and other women from the BLGBT team will be writing short blogs focusing on health and wellbeing to be put up throughout #LBWomensHealthWeek17 on their website and will be ending the week at The Fox, an LGBT women’s pub, holding an information stall and asking women to have selfies for twitter taken with our poster – they have also secured a testing van so can offer women STI screening and HIV testing.
The Health and Wellbeing Fair
On Tuesday 14th, Andréa will be at the Cakes and Ladders Cafe next door to Birmingham LGBT talking to women about her role as a sexual health outreach worker for lesbian and bisexual women and how she can support them to access the existing sexual health services on offer from Birmingham LGBT. She will also be talking about the opening of the West Midlands first dedicated sexual health monthly clinic just for Lesbian, WSW and Bisexual women.
This exciting initiative will see a dedicated space for women who identify as lesbian, WSW or bisexual to access all aspects of sexual health support, treatment, advice and referral. Women will be offered STI screening as well as HPV screening, free safer sex supplies and cervical cytology. The clinic will have an Independent Sexual Violence Advocate (ISVA) to offer practical and emotional support and direct referral into appropriate counselling.
Andréa says: I am proud to say that women have helped to shape what will be offered at the clinic through consultation and feedback – I will also be consulting with women attending the health fair for their opinions, thoughts and feedback on sexual health services for them.
At the fair there will also be:
- Staff from BLGBT’s wellbeing support service who can help women to improve their wellbeing and reduce isolation.
- Representatives from Activate – a Sport England-funded project, designed to encourage LGBT people in the area to try new sports, and challenge homophobia in sport.
- The Ageing Better LGBT Hub, which can provide practical support, access to finance and promotion of LGBT groups and activities to 50+ LGBT people.
- BLGBT’s Peer Mentor & Volunteer Coordinator who can explain how to get involved with peer to peer mentoring either as a mentee of mentor, or volunteering opportunities throughout Birmingham LGBT.
The whole event is aimed at bringing together women from the community to let them know about all that is on offer at Birmingham LGBT for LGBT women to get involved in to help improve their health and wellbeing.
Cancer doesn’t discriminate. Find out what our friends in Manchester and Staffordshire are doing to mark #LBWomensHealthWeek17 & work to make cancer support, treatment and research more inclusive.
The LGBT Cancer Support Alliance (based in Manchester) meets every few months and is made up of researchers, health professionals and people affected by cancer who all come together with a shared aim to reduce inequalities for LGBT people affected by cancer. Part of their work so far has been to identify and unpick the needs of different groups under the ‘LGBT umbrella’, and the first Lesbian and Bisexual Women’s Health Week comes around just as they are really starting to bring to light the issues which specifically affect lesbian and bisexual women.
Why are these issues only just being uncovered? We know that many cancer services do not ask about or record the sexuality of cancer patients under their care, and this lack of monitoring means that the experiences of lesbian and bisexual women remain invisible*. As a patient this may also have an effect on the ease of conversations and appropriateness of given information around important aspects of recovery, for example a chat with your doctor around your sex life after cancer treatment.
In November last year the Alliance held their first event solely aimed at lesbian and bisexual women, an informal gathering of 10 women from the community to talk about some of the issues and barriers they have faced when accessing cancer services. The Alliance have also looked at underlying public health issues which continue to create inequalities for everyone under the LGBT umbrella, such as their newly published Proud 2B Smokefree report which presents new research on smoking cessation and the LGBT community (the latest ONS data shows that 31% of lesbian women smoke, a much higher rate than heterosexual women at 17%).
To mark the week, the LGBT Cancer Support Alliance will be sharing a new series of videos funded by Macmillan Cancer Support and produced by Alliance member and researcher from the University of Manchester, Maurice Nagington. The study gives us a frank and fresh insight into the lives of UK LGBT cancer patients through video interviews. Whether it’s Laeticia on cancer and life plans or couple Carolyn and Dollar on breast surgery, we hope you will find something of interest in these clips.
The complete set of videos can be accessed here. Follow updates all week via Twitter @LGBTCancerSA or on Facebook.
The LGBT and Cancer Project is a partnership between Macmillan Cancer Support and Disability Solutions West Midlands.
The Project aim to highlight and address inequalities for LGBT people affected by cancer. During LB Women’s Health week, they are joining forces with Staffordshire Breast Screening Services. They will be at a different venue across Staffordshire each day with information relevant to lesbian and bi women’s health and wellbeing. They will raise awareness of self-checking, smear tests, smoking cessation services, beauty tips after chemo and much more. They have also had prizes kindly donated by sponsors to offer in a raffle.
Go to @StaffsLGBT to follow their progress across Lesbian and Bisexual Women’s Health Week 2017.
*In April 2017 an information standard for monitoring sexuality will be introduced across the health and social care system in England. This standard will enable organisations to monitor sexual orientation in a way that is consistent with all other parts of the healthcare system. Read more here.
Alcohol is one of the most significant factors related to our good health and wellbeing, linked to short term issues such as hangovers and days missed from work, as well as long term issues including cancers and liver damage. The research we have indicates that LGB & T people drink more – and more often – than society as a whole, placing them at increased risk. A new study of LGB & T drinking found venues on the scene heavily promoted alcohol deals, but health messages around safer drinking rarely speak directly to our communities.
At London Friend we run Antidote, the UK’s only LGBT specific alcohol and drug support service. We’re concerned about the long-term impact of alcohol on our community so have launched Sober Start, a campaign aimed at social drinkers whose drinking may be increasing risk to their health.
Sober Start encourages people to assess their own drinking, with tips for cutting down over time. As an incentive we’re also encouraging people to join us for an alcohol-free January detox, building on those New Year resolutions and burning off any excesses from the festive season as a kick-start to a healthier 2016. Those doing so can join our sponsorship campaign and help us raise funds for the Antidote service.
Sober Start uses a simple screening tool to let people assess where their own drinking is at, and makes suggestions for small but manageable changes to cut back and prevent long-term damage. Such assessments are widely championed and used in national initiatives such as the NHS Health Check. Earlier this year we jointly published an LGBT briefing with Public Health England for healthcare professionals and commissioners to make the interventions more widely available to LGB & T people. You can download it here.
We’ll be Tweeting out encouragement to everyone joining us for a Sober Start this January, and you can follow us on Twitter or on Facebook and use the hashtag #SoberStartLGBT to join the conversation. To fundraise for us with your own sponsored Sober Start, or to make a donation to the campaign, sign up here with Just Giving.
Join us and make your January a corker with you own Sober Start!
Monty Moncrieff is the Chief Executive of London Friend
The National LGB&T Partnership is working with Public Health England (PHE) to improve the healthcare provided to lesbian, bisexual and other non-heterosexual women.
Beyond Babies and Breast Cancer, an exploration of lesbian and bisexual women’s healthcare needs, found that:
- Lesbian and bisexual women are more likely to report negative experiences of healthcare than either gay and bisexual men or heterosexual women.
- Large scale studies have also found that both lesbian and bisexual women are more likely than heterosexual women to report ill health or long-standing health conditions.
But what is being done in the provision of services to address this inequality?
PHE is undertaking a review of the academic research into the healthcare of this community. To complement this, the Partnership is producing a document which highlights best practice and makes recommendations to healthcare providers like doctors, nurses and reception staff about how to provide appropriate and welcoming services.
We are collecting patient experiences to be part of the report. We’re asking all lesbian, bisexual and other non-heterosexual women to tell us about positive or negative practice (or even a mix of both) that they’ve experienced when accessing healthcare services.
We’d really like to hear about as many healthcare encounters as possible, so if you have an experience to share, please follow this link to complete our short survey and please share the link with people in your network. Everyone who completes the survey will be entered into a prize draw to win £50 of shopping vouchers.
We’ll also be running some focus groups in London, Manchester and Birmingham throughout December to explore these issues further. All participants will receive £15 shopping vouchers as a thank you for taking part, so please do register to join if you are interested, and of course please share this information with friends too.
Birmingham Tues 1st Dec 6pm contact firstname.lastname@example.org for details
London Mon 7th Dec at 7pm Register here
Manchester Thurs 10th December at 6.30pm Register here
Over the last couple of months The National LGB&T Partnership has published three new sets of resources. As well as supporting our strategic aim to encourage and assist with the development of LGB&T competency in health and social care settings through providing guidance to local authorities, directors of public health and adult social care, service providers and commissioners, these resources also provide support to both LGB&T community groups and organisations, and to LGB&T individuals.
The new resources cover three distinct areas: smoking cessation, alcohol use, and mental health; please click on the links below to access the resources. We would also be grateful if you would complete a short feedback questionnaire, linked on each resource page, after reading the resources.
Smoking Cessation Resources
Alcohol IBA LGB&T Briefing
LGB&T Mental Health Resources
These new resources join our suite of resources available here, including LGB&T companions to the Adult Social Care Outcomes Framework and Public Health Outcomes Framework, and health fact sheets for trans people.
To sign up to our monthly newsletter and be the first to hear about future publications and events, as well as receive information to support your own work on reducing the health inequalities of lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans communities and to challenging homophobia, biphobia and transphobia within public health services, please enter your details here.
CQC regularly inspects all registered health and social care services in England, and we produce a report on each service that we visit. We also do special reviews looking at different aspects of care that are important to people and where care and support may be the responsibility of a number of separate services. We produce a national report on what we find from these thematic reviews. Right now, we are looking at the experiences of people who have been through a mental health crisis.
Continue reading “Review of the experience of people who have been through a mental health crisis”