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Don’t forget women in fight against HIV – NCCP

The National Council of Churches in the Philippines (NCCP) is calling for the inclusion of women in discussions about HIV and AIDS. While the spread of HIV and AIDS in the country has been categorized as a concentrated epidemic among key populations such as males who have sex with males and people who inject drugs in certain geographic areas, the number of women with HIV has also been increasing.

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HIV

In response to the continuing worsening HIV situation in the Philippines, and as part of the #PreventionNOTCondemnation campaign, the National Council of Churches in the Philippines (NCCP) is calling for the inclusion of women in discussions about HIV and AIDS.

While the spread of HIV and AIDS in the country has been categorized by UNAIDS as a concentrated epidemic among key populations such as males who have sex with males (MSM) and people who inject drugs in certain geographic areas, the number of women with HIV has also been increasing. As of December 2014, the Department of Health (DOH) reported a total of 2,098 cases of HIV among women. This is only 9% of the cumulative number of reported HIV infections in the country since 1984.

“In the Philippines, women gave a public face to HIV and AIDS starting in the late 1980s to the 1990s. Dolzura Cortez and Sarah Jane Salazar showed us how women in (sex industry) and mostly wives of overseas contract workers especially seafarers, were highly vulnerable to HIV infection. We are concerned that women living with HIV have been pushed out of focus in the recent years,” said Rev. Rex Reyes Jr. general secretary of the NCCP.

Darlene Marquez-Caramanzana, program secretary on Ecumenical Education and Nurture of the NCCP, added that gender imbalances worsen the impact of HIV and disproportionately subject women to unequal power relations, violence, discrimination and poverty.

“For Filipina women, negotiating condom use with their partners remain a challenge. Women also fear and experience violence and rejection from their partners or husbands, making them reluctant to get tested for HIV. Women as care providers of families also carry the burden of deaths from AIDS. We at NCCP commit to providing a space for both males and females to challenge harmful gender norms to reverse the negative impact on women and girls,” said Marquez-Caramanzana.

The Board of Women’s Work of the United Methodist Church (BWW-UMC), an NCCP member church, already started a partnership with Babae Plus in assisting women living with HIV with their PhilHealth insurance enrollment and other medical expenses.

For Phoebelyn Carreon, HIV program coordinator of the BWW-UMC, there are women-specific needs that existing programs fail to respond to.

“Women living with HIV tell us that finding obstetric and gynecological services in their treatment hubs is a challenge. While antiretroviral medication is provided for free by Global Fund, health services for women are not all the time free or affordable. While we educate our church on HIV and AIDS prevention, we do what we can to raise funds for the needs of women living with HIV, who mostly are unemployed,” Carreon said.

NCCP is eyeing to “continue to empower women and girls in our churches and communities in making informed decisions about HIV. We will ensure to make all relevant facts available to develop their confidence to make or negotiate healthy choices. At the same time, we call on government to address the structural drivers that continue to make women and girls vulnerable. Women and children remain to be among the poorest sectors in Philippine society despite poverty alleviation programs designed for them and in every 16 minutes, one woman or child is battered and in every 53 minutes, one woman or child is raped. If this continues, HIV infection and AIDS related deaths will persist among women and girls,” Marquez-Caramanzana ended.

NEWSMAKERS

Straight cisgender people more likely to be open-minded, accepting if they see LGBTQIA people in media

Those who have seen LGBTQIA representation are more accepting of gay and lesbian people than those who haven’t (48% to 35%). They are also more accepting of bisexual people (45% to 31%), and of non-binary people (41% to 30%).

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Straight cisgender people more likely to be open-minded and accepting if they see LGBTQIA people in the media. This is according to a study by US media organization GLAAD.

GLAAD’s researchers surveyed 2,031 non-LGBTQIA Americans (those who saw LGBTQIA people in the media, and those who say they have not seen LGBTQIA media representation recently). They found 80% of those who saw LGBTQIA representation are more supportive of equal rights, compared to 70% of those who haven’t seen LGBTQIA people in the media.

For the companies jumping into the rainbow bandwagon: 85% of the straight, cisgender respondents think that companies who include LGBTQIA people in their advertising are showing their “commitment to offering products to all types of customers”.

According to Sarah Kate Ellis, president and CEO of GLAAD: “The findings of this study send a strong message to brands and media outlets. Including (LGBTQIA) people in ads, films, and TV is good for business and good for the world.”

Other findings include:

  • Those who have seen LGBTQIA representation are more accepting of gay and lesbian people than those who haven’t (48% to 35%).
  • They are also more accepting of bisexual people (45% to 31%).
  • They are also more accepting of non-binary people (41% to 30%).
  • 72% of those who see LGBTQIA representation are more likely to be comfortable with an LGBTQIA family member (versus 66% of those who don’t see that representation).
  • They are more likely to be comfortable if an LGBTQIA family with children moves into their neighborhood (79% to 72%).
  • They are also more likely to be comfortable starting a conversation with someone who is not straight (81% to 76%).
  • 73% of those who have seen LGBTQIA representation first group would be happy if their doctor is gay, lesbian or bi (against 67% of those who haven’t seen recent LGBTQIA representation.

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Health & Wellness

Gender affirmation linked with trans, gender nonbinary youth mental health improvement

Having accessed multiple steps of gender affirmation (social, legal, and medical/surgical) was associated with fewer symptoms of depression and less anxiety. Furthermore, engaging in gender affirmation processes helped youth to develop a sense of pride and positivity about their gender identity and a feeling of being socially accepted.

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Enabling transgender and gender nonbinary youth to access gender affirmation processes is good.

This is according to a study – “Gender Affirmation Is Associated with Transgender and Gender Nonbinary Youth Mental Health Improvement” – done by Anna Martha Vaitses Fontanari, Felipe Vilanova, Maiko Abel Schneider, Itala Chinazzo, Bianca Machado Soll, Karine Schwarz, Maria Inês Rodrigues Lobato, and Angelo Brandelli Costa; and which appeared in LGBT Health.

The study aimed to evaluate the impact of each domain of gender affirmation (social, legal, and medical/surgical) on the mental health of transgender and gender nonbinary youth. To do this, 350 transgender boys, transgender girls, and gender nonbinary Brazilian youth, aged from 16 to 24 years old, were asked to answer an online survey.

Among the 350 participants, a total of 149 (42.64%) youth identified as transgender boys, 85 (24.28%) identified as transgender girls, and 116 (33.14%) identified as gender nonbinary youth. The mean age was 18.61 (95% confidence interval 18.34–18.88) years. Having accessed multiple steps of gender affirmation (social, legal, and medical/surgical) was associated with fewer symptoms of depression and less anxiety. Furthermore, engaging in gender affirmation processes helped youth to develop a sense of pride and positivity about their gender identity and a feeling of being socially accepted.

“Enabling transgender and gender nonbinary youth to access gender affirmation processes more easily should be considered as a strategy to reduce depression and anxiety symptoms, as well as to improve gender positivity,” the researchers stated.

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Love Affairs

LGBTQIA people think domestic violence is a cis-straight issue – study

A study found that domestic and family violence (DFV) and intimate partner violence (IPV) were perceived by community members and professional stakeholders to be a “heterosexual issue that did not easily apply to LGBTQIA relationships.”

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Members of the LGBTQIA community think domestic violence is a cis-straight issue. This is according to a study conducted by Relationships Australia New South Wales (RANSW) and ACON (formerly the AIDS Council of NSW), and was published by Australia’s National Research Organisation for Women’s Safety.

As stated in “Developing LGBTQ programs for perpetrators and victims/survivors of domestic and family violence”, many LGBTQIA people think domestic violence is an issue only faced by people who are both cisgender and straight.

The study found that domestic and family violence (DFV) and intimate partner violence (IPV) were perceived by community members and professional stakeholders to be a “heterosexual issue that did not easily apply to LGBTQIA relationships.”

“In particular, many community members held the view that relationships between (LGBTQIA) people could avoid the inherent sexism and patriarchal values of heterosexual, cisgender relationships, and, by implication, avoid DFV/IPV.”

In a way, this doesn’t come as a complete surprise, considering the language and framework used when discussing DFV and IPV.

The study noted that “although DFV and IPV have received increased attention in recent years, the focus has been on addressing intimate abuse between cisgender, heterosexual people with greater attention paid to male perpetrators.”

Also, “clients and potential clients did not have a full understanding of what constitutes domestic violence and felt this term related only to physical forms of abuse.”

And so “although (LGBTQIA) perpetrator interventions, and research around them, are emergent at best, the scant literature does provide a little information which can be used
to inform program developers and clinical practice.”

The researchers also noted particular kinds of abuse not seen among cis-straight people.

For instance, there are “identity-based tactics of abuse” where the fear of exposure or outing is used as a weapon within queer relationships.

After an individual has appraised that he/she may be experiencing abuse, seeking appropriate intervention may also be challenging because of non-inclusive services currently available.

The researchers recommended the following:

  • Make LGBTQIA inclusivity training required learning for all DFV/IPV sector staff, particularly those employed in specialized DFV/IPV roles.
  • Advocate that inclusivity training be made mandatory within clinical organizations, and among police and legal professionals.
  • Develop referral pathways into LGBTQIA-friendly DFV/IPV programs for key professionals, such as court support workers and magistrates.
  • Increase representation of LGBTQIA people in promotional material about DFV/IPV.
  • Use social media platforms to increase DFV/IPV awareness in LGBTQIA communities and use these channels to engage clients for future programs.
  • Provide ongoing funding to develop, trial and implement tailored programs. Short funding cycles do not provide adequate time to populate groups within an underdeveloped community area.
  • Ensure programs respond to diverse needs within mixed LGBTQIA groups and manage transphobia and biphobia.

This isn’t the first time DFV and IPV within the LGBTQIA community was tackled – even if it remains to be under-researched, and not widely tackled within the LGBTQIA community. In 2018, for instance, a study found that nearly half of men in same-sex couples suffered some form of abuse at the hands of their partner, according to a study that surveyed 320 men (160 male couples) in Atlanta, Boston and Chicago in the US to measure emotional abuse, controlling behaviors, monitoring of partners, and HIV-related abuse.

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NEWSMAKERS

LGB individuals have less contact with, and live geographically farther from siblings

LGB individuals had less frequent contact with, and lived geographically farther from their siblings. The pattern of effects was similar for bisexual and gay or lesbian individuals, and stronger for male than female sexual minority individuals.

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Lesbian, gay and bisexual people tend to live geographically farther away from their brothers and sisters, and have less less frequent contact with them. This is according to new research from Australia, published in the Journal of Marriage and Family.

The study – “Sexual Orientation, Geographic Proximity, and Contact Frequency Between Adult Siblings“, authored by Francisco Perales and Stefanie Plage – suggests that (no surprise here) sexual stigma is a reason why this is so, as it can harm family relationships.

To compare the closeness of sibling relations between individuals with different sexual orientations, the study used data from an Australian national survey (Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia Survey). The researchers analyzed data from 13,252 individuals with 35,622 individual‐sibling pairs.

Key results indicated that — when compared with heterosexual individuals — LGB individuals had less frequent contact with, and lived geographically farther from their siblings. The pattern of effects was similar for bisexual and gay or lesbian individuals, and stronger for male than female sexual minority individuals.

According to the researchers, the findings are consistent with theoretical perspectives highlighting the unique barriers to socioeconomic inclusion experienced by individuals from sexual minorities. They suggest that these barriers begin within the nuclear family.

As quoted by PsyPost, study author Perales said: “We know that people who identify as LGB tend to experience poorer outcomes across life domains than heterosexual people… The dominant explanation for this is that these individuals receive lower levels of social support from their family and the broader community. This is because non-heterosexuality remains a stigmatized and not fully accepted social status.”

Family support – or its lack – is an important issue for members of the LGBTQIA community. A 2016 study, for instance, noted that more than 42% of the individuals who self-identified as transgender or gender nonconforming reported a suicide attempt, and over 26% had misused drugs or alcohol to cope with transgender-related discrimination. After controlling for age, race/ethnicity, sex assigned at birth, binary gender identity, income, education, and employment status, family rejection was associated with increased odds of both behaviors. Odds increased significantly with increasing levels of family rejection.

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NEWSMAKERS

Tech-related jealousy is real… including LGBTQIAs

According to the Pew Research Center, about one-third of LGB partnered adults whose significant other uses social media report that they have felt jealous or unsure in their current relationship because of how their partner interacted with others on social media (versus 22% of straight people who say this).

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Social media can be a source of jealousy and uncertainty in relationships – especially for younger adults.

This is according to a Pew Research Center study (with the survey conducted in October 2019, though the study was only released recently) that found that, indeed, many people encounter tech-related struggles with their significant others.

In “Dating and Relationships in the Digital Age”, Pew Research Center noted that “younger people value social media as a place to share how much they care about their partner or to keep up with what’s going on in their partner’s life.” However, “they also acknowledge some of the downsides that these sites can have on relationships.”

Twenty-three percent (23%) of adults with partners who use social media say they have felt jealous or unsure about their relationship because of the way their current spouse or partner interacts with other people on social media.

Now get this: the number is higher among those in younger age groups.

Among partnered adults whose significant other uses social media, 34% of 18- to 29-year-olds and 26% of those ages 30 to 49 say they have felt jealous or unsure in their current relationship because of how their partner interacted with others on social media. This is definitely higher than the 19% of those aged 50 to 64 who say this, and 4% of those ages 65 and up.

The insecurity is also common among those not married – i.e. 37% of unmarried adults with partners who are social media users say they have felt this way about their current partner, while only 17% of married people say the same.

Women are reportedly more likely to express displeasure with how their significant other interacts with others on social media (29% vs. 17% for men).

Meanwhile, college graduates are less likely to report having felt this way than those with some college experience or a high school degree or less.

And yes, LGBTQIA community members are no different.

According to the Pew Research Center, about one-third of LGB partnered adults whose significant other uses social media report that they have felt jealous or unsure in their current relationship because of how their partner interacted with others on social media (versus 22% of straight people who say this).

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NEWSMAKERS

Marriage equality boosted US economy by $3.8B since 2015 – study

Marriage equality in the US injected approximately state and local economies by an estimated $3.8 billion, and generated an estimated $244.1 million in state and local sales tax revenue since 2015.

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Marriage equality in the US injected approximately state and local economies by an estimated $3.8 billion, and generated an estimated $244.1 million in state and local sales tax revenue since 2015, when the US Supreme Court ruled in Obergefell v. Hodges that the country’s constitution guarantees all couples the right to marry, extending marriage to same-sex couples throughout. This spending, by the way, supported an estimated 45,000 jobs for one full year.

This is according to “The Economic Impact of Marriage Equality Five Years after Obergefell v. Hodges”, a study done by the Williams Institute at California’s UCLA School of Law.

The Williams Institute study included figures and estimates based on data from the US Census Bureau.

Approximately 293,000 LGBTQIA couples tied the knot since the US Supreme Court ruled in favor of marriage equality.

“Marriage equality has changed the lives of same-sex couples and their families,” said the study’s lead author Christy Mallory. “It has also provided a sizable benefit to business and state and local governments.”

Broken down, the amounts spent were:

  • Some $3.2 billion on weddings
  • $544 million by traveling wedding guests
  • $244 million in state and local taxes

The US is one of only 28 United Nations’ member states recognizing marriage equality.

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