A new Danish study found that HIV-positive individuals who smoke lose more years of life to tobacco than to the HIV virus. It is important to note that Missouri and the Midwest are in one of the few areas in the nation where HIV is still on the rise. It is also important to note that smoking rates are higher in this part of the country than in many other areas. The study found that a 35-year-old HIV patient who did not smoke was likely to live to age 78, while one who smoked was likely to die before age 63. Learn more about this study at: www.nytimes.com/2013/01/01/health/smoking-cuts-hiv-patients-lives-more-than-virus-study-says.html?_r=2&
The battle continues in the courts over gay conversion therapy and two states, California and New Jersey. They are trying to prove why it is unethical and dangerous. The biggest problem with Sexual Orientation Change Efforts (conversion or reparative therapy) is that it most likely keeps clients in a mode of self-deprecating thinking. The premise of reparative therapy focuses on heteronormativity (heterosexual expressions of sexuality) as being the only valid form of sexual expression. This could create an internal conflict that perpetuates a cycle of inadequacy. It’s important to remember that every major medical association in the United States has deemed conversion therapy as an inappropriate and ineffective treatment approach. Learn more about the legal cases pending in both states: www.ama-assn.org/amednews/2013/01/21/gvsb0121.htm
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) released a report in response to the Institute of Medicine’s “The Health of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender People: Building a Foundation for Better Understanding.” The NIH announced plans for expanding research regarding LGBT health-care disparities. There is a call for stronger data collection, a focus on career development, an emphasis on smoking and health, as well as a focus on specific underserved populations, such as transgender people. A response to the report can be found at: www.nih.gov/about/director/01032013_lgbt_plan.htm
Treating transgender children and adolescents has become an area of controversy over recent years, as more enlightened parents and their gender-variant children are being referred to gender treatment earlier in life. Questions include: Should treatment be aimed at helping transgender kids accept the bodies into which they were born, or should parents, clinicians, and schools accommodate their wishes to transition? Gender Spectrum is a great resource for parents seeking more information on their gender-variant children: www.genderspectrum.org/. The Journal of Homosexuality recently published a special issue focused on treating gender-variant children and adolescents, including clinical approaches and responses. The special issue was reprinted as a book, recently released by Routledge press: www.routledge.com/books/details/9780415634823/

Whether you're spreading truth, information, or love, traveling abroad for humanitarian reasons can have risks. Detained American journalist in Myanmar, Danny Fenster, is to be released from jail, and to fly home soon. But it doesn't always end well for every foreign national attempting to do good in a foreign country.

The missionaries consisting of sixteen Americans and one Canadian kidnapped by the Haitian “400 Mawozo” gang on October 16, is extremely scary. The gang has threatened to kill the humanitarian Christians if a million dollar per person ransom is not fulfilled. The group consists of men, women, children and an eight-month-old baby.

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The Black Trans Fund, incubated at Groundswell Fund, and Grantmakers for Girls of Color launched the Holding a Sister Initiative, the first-ever national fund explicitly dedicated to transgender girls and gender-expansive youth of color.

Dr. Monique W. Morris, president and CEO of Grantmakers for Girls of Color, and Bré Rivera, program director of the Black Trans Fund are together spearheading the Holding a Sister Initiative to bring attention and resources to organizations supporting trans girls of color, normalize concern and investment in their success, and create learning opportunities for cis and trans girls of color to move in deeper community with one another.

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