Medicine Hub




Nation's Most Influential Pediatrics Group Backs Gay Marriage

In a new policy statement published today, The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) announces its support for same-sex marriage as well as full adoption and foster care rights for all parents regardless of sexual orientation "as the best way to guarantee benefits and security for their children."

Aap“Children thrive in families that are stable and that provide permanent security, and the way we do that is through marriage,” said Benjamin Siegel, MD, FAAP, chair of the AAP Committee on Psychosocial Aspects of Child and Family Health, and a co-author of the policy statement. “The AAP believes there should be equal opportunity for every couple to access the economic stability and federal supports provided to married couples to raise children.”

In a previous policy statement published in 2002 and reaffirmed in 2010, the AAP supported second-parent adoption by partners of the same sex as a way to protect children’s right to maintain relationships with both parents, eligibility for health benefits and financial security. The 2013 policy statement and accompanying technical report adds recommendations in support of civil marriage for same-gender couples; adoption by single parents, co-parents or second parents regardless of sexual orientation; and foster care placement regardless of sexual orientation.

Read the policy statement HERE and the technical report HERE.


'Broadway's New Musical 'Kinky Boots' to Support Landmark Columbia University LGBT Health Initiative: You Can Too

Columbia University Medical Center recently established a new groundbreaking LGBT Health Initiative. Never before has a medical school included such specialized training in LGBT issues as part of its curriculum for physicians and psychiatrists 

KinkyThe director of the initiative, Anke A. Ehrhardt, Ph.D., who is also Director of the Division of Gender, Sexuality, and Health at  the NYS Psychiatric Institute and the Columbia University Department of Psychiatry, explained the program in a memo sent out late last month.

Across the lifespan, new issues are emerging, including LGBT youth coming out at  earlier ages, new family identities being forged by same-sex marriage and co-parenting, relationships, and the aging of the first openly LGBT generation. We will  bring together scientists, clinicians, educators, and policymakers to respond comprehensively  to the critical issues facing LGBT people. For example, families, schools, and health providers  are often ill-prepared to offer support to LGBT youth, which increases their vulnerability to shame, low self esteem, isolation, loneliness and self-harm. We will conduct the research necessary to develop the tools that families, schools, and health providers can use to strengthen resilience among LGBT people. Such research will also inform the training of the  next generation of clinicians and educators and drive public policy to improve the climate of  schools and communities so that LGBT youth can thrive. 

The Initiative’s research efforts will recognize the diversity within the LGBT population  and the urgent need to understand the intersections among gender identity, sexual orientation,  race/ethnicity, social class, and age, as well as the specific needs of different groups.

Said Dr. Walter O. Bockting PhD, the initiative's co-director: "Almost every day in the news, there is another sign of progress in fighting stigma and in confronting the inequities found among the LGBT population. However, despite this dramatic increase in public awareness, research to guide this progress and training in evidence-based, culturally competent health care has lagged behind. To fill this gap, we will take LGBT health research, practice, education, and policy to a  whole new level by working collaboratively with faculty and students, colleagues in the field,  affected communities, and policymakers."

So important is this initiative to the LGBT community that the new Broadway musical Kinky Boots is hosting a special one-night only event at the show, featuring a pre-show cocktail reception with composer/lyricist Cyndi Lauper and director Jerry Mitchell, and a post-show talkback with book writer Harvey Fierstein. The evening will be co-sponsored by Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS, and all proceeds will go directly to program development for the Initiative for LGBT Health.

So if you're interested in seeing Kinky Boots and want to help Columbia implement this new initiative, you can get tickets to the benefit performance, the pre-show cocktail reception and post-show talk-back by calling Leigh Ann Brienza, Director of Development, at 212-304-7227, or by email at lab2213@columbia.edu.

There are still a few tickets left I'm told. Click the flyer for more details.


Bee Venom Kills HIV: VIDEO

A toxin found in bee venom has been found to be successful in killing HIV, raising hopes for a gel that could deliver it to infected cels via nanoparticles.

Science Daily:

Stinger"Our hope is that in places where HIV is running rampant, people could use this gel as a preventive measure to stop the initial infection," says Joshua L. Hood, MD, PhD, a research instructor in medicine. The study appears in the current issue of Antiviral Therapy.

Bee venom contains a potent toxin called melittin that can poke holes in the protective envelope that surrounds HIV, and other viruses. Large amounts of free melittin can cause a lot of damage. Indeed, in addition to anti-viral therapy, the paper's senior author, Samuel A. Wickline, MD, the J. Russell Hornsby Professor of Biomedical Sciences, has shown melittin-loaded nanoparticles to be effective in killing tumor cells.

The new study shows that melittin loaded onto these nanoparticles does not harm normal cells. That's because Hood added protective bumpers to the nanoparticle surface. When the nanoparticles come into contact with normal cells, which are much larger in size, the particles simply bounce off. HIV, on the other hand, is even smaller than the nanoparticle, so HIV fits between the bumpers and makes contact with the surface of the nanoparticle, where the bee toxin awaits.

"Melittin on the nanoparticles fuses with the viral envelope," Hood says. "The melittin forms little pore-like attack complexes and ruptures the envelope, stripping it off the virus."

How does one collect bee venom?

A helpful video, AFTER THE JUMP...

Venom

Continue reading "Bee Venom Kills HIV: VIDEO" »


Group of Scientists Believe They Have Unlocked Hereditary Question of Why People are Gay

A group of scientists from the National Institute for Mathematical and Biological Synthesis say they believe they have the answer to why people are gay, and believe it is an "epigenetic" one linking fathers to lesbian daughters and mothers to gay sons. And they say they can prove whether their theory is right within six months, US News reports:

GenomeLong thought to have some sort of hereditary link, a group of scientists suggested Tuesday that homosexuality is linked to epi-marks — extra layers of information that control how certain genes are expressed. These epi-marks are usually, but not always, "erased" between generations. In homosexuals, these epi-marks aren't erased — they're passed from father-to-daughter or mother-to-son, explains William Rice, an evolutionary biologist at the University of California Santa Barbara and lead author of the study.

More:

Rice and his team created a mathematical model that explains why homosexuality is passed through epi-marks, not genetics. Evolutionarily speaking, if homosexuality was solely a genetic trait, scientists would expect the trait to eventually disappear because homosexuals wouldn't be expected to reproduce. But because these epi-marks provide an evolutionary advantage for the parents of homosexuals: They protect fathers of homosexuals from underexposure to testosterone and mothers of homosexuals from overexposure to testosterone while they are in gestation.

"These epi-marks protect fathers and mothers from excess or underexposure to testosterone — when they carry over to opposite-sex offspring, it can cause the masculinization of females or the feminization of males," Rice says, which can lead to a child becoming gay. Rice notes that these markers are "highly variable" and that only strong epi-marks will result in a homosexual offspring.

Adds Rice: "We've found a story that looks really good. There's more verification needed, but we point out how we can easily do epigenetic profiles genome-wide. We predict where the epi-marks occur, we just need other studies to look at it empirically. This can be tested and proven within six months. It's easy to test. If it's a bad idea, we can throw it away in short order."

More here.


Sydney Doctor Reprimanded for Prescribing 'Chemical Castration' to Gay Teen in Order to 'Cure' Him

Sydney doctor Mark Craddock has been "found guilty of unsatisfactory processional conduct" and reprimanded as well as restricted to the field of radiology after prescribing a "chemical castration" to a teen in order to "cure" him of being gay, AFP reports:

CyprostatBoth men were at the time members of the Exclusive Brethren, a conservative Christian group whose members shun television, radio, and the Internet and do not vote.

In a letter of complaint to the commission, the patient wrote that he came out as gay at the age of 18 and was informed by a church leader, "There's medication you can go on for these things."

The patient then consulted Craddock.

The commission argued that during the consultation the doctor did not provide appropriate medical management of the patient's needs by failing to physically examine him or take a medical history.

He also failed to refer him to a counsellor or psychologist.

Craddock instead prescribed cyprostat, a drug used to treat prostate cancer and manage sexual deviation by reducing testosterone, in circumstances which were not clinically indicated, the commission alleged.

One wonders why licenses aren't completely revoked in these situations.


New Study Shows Sexual Orientation Revealed by One's Eyes

A new study reveals that sexual orientation can be detected by looking at the pupils of our eyes.

EyeScience Daily reports:

For the first time, researchers at Cornell University used a specialized infrared lens to measure pupillary changes to participants watching erotic videos. Pupils were highly telling: they widened most to videos of people who participants found attractive, thereby revealing where they were on the sexual spectrum from heterosexual to homosexual.

The findings were published August 3 in the scientific journal PLoS ONE.

Previous research explored these mechanisms either by simply asking people about their sexuality, or by using physiological measures such as assessing their genital arousal. These methods, however, come with substantial problems.

"We wanted to find an alternative measure that would be an automatic indication of sexual orientation, but without being as invasive as previous measures. Pupillary responses are exactly that," says Gerulf Rieger, lead author and research fellow at Cornell. "With this new technology we are able to explore sexual orientation of people who would never participate in a study on genital arousal, such as people from traditional cultures. This will give us a much better understanding how sexuality is expressed across the planet."

Justin Lehmiller adds:

The idea for this study came out of past research indicating that our pupils naturally dilate when we see something interesting. This is an involuntary response activated by our autonomic nervous system, a bodily system that controls breathing, digestion, heart rate, and many other automatic processes. Pupil dilation is therefore something that it unlikely to be under a person’s conscious control. One previous study conducted in the 1960s found that people’s pupils tend to dilate when they see sexually arousing imagery, but that study only looked at a total of 10 participants (half heterosexual and half homosexual), all of whom were men.

In the new study, 325 men and women of varying sexualities (heterosexual, homosexual, and bisexual) watched a series of one-minute video clips in random order. The video content was either a man masturbating, a woman masturbating, or a neutral landscape. A gaze-tracking camera measured the size of participants’ pupils every two milliseconds as the videos were shown. All videos were of equivalent brightness to ensure that changes in light did not affect pupil size.


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