Supportive social networks can mitigate LGBTI mental health risk, study finds

The Guardian, Thursday 9 February 2017

Sexuality poses no risk to mental health, a new study has found, challenging a common perception that homosexual and bisexual people are at risk of poor mental health and suicide because of their orientation.

The research, carried out over eight years and led by the Australian National University, found that the risk commonly attributed to sexual orientation was driven by other factors, including negative social interactions, the absence of support, adversity in childhood such as sexual trauma, and even smoking.

  • Read more of article here 
  • Access the Personality & Total Health (PATH) Through Life Study website here
  • Access abstract of journal paper The long-term mental health risk associated with non-heterosexual orientation here

Impact of Cigarette Smoking and Smoking Cessation on Life Expectancy Among People With HIV

J Infect Dis. (2016) 214 (11):1672-1681.doi: 10.1093/infdis/jiw430

Abstract

Background. In the United States, >40% of people infected with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) smoke cigarettes.

Methods. We used a computer simulation of HIV disease and treatment to project the life expectancy of HIV-infected persons, based on smoking status. We used age- and sex-specific data on mortality, stratified by smoking status. The ratio of the non-AIDS-related mortality risk for current smokers versus that for never smokers was 2.8, and the ratio for former smokers versus never smokers was 1.0–1.8, depending on cessation age. Projected survival was based on smoking status, sex, and initial age. We also estimated the total potential life-years gained if a proportion of the approximately 248 000 HIV-infected US smokers quit smoking.

Results. Men and women entering HIV care at age 40 years (mean CD4+T-cell count, 360 cells/µL) who continued to smoke lost 6.7 years and 6.3 years of life expectancy, respectively, compared with never smokers; those who quit smoking upon entering care regained 5.7 years and 4.6 years, respectively. Factors associated with greater benefits from smoking cessation included younger age, higher initial CD4+ T-cell count, and complete adherence to antiretroviral therapy. Smoking cessation by 10%–25% of HIV-infected smokers could save approximately 106 000–265 000 years of life.

Conclusions. HIV-infected US smokers aged 40 years lose >6 years of life expectancy from smoking, possibly outweighing the loss from HIV infection itself. Smoking cessation should become a priority in HIV treatment programs.

Full text (open access) here 

An atlas of six South Australian communities: Mapping the influences on community wellbeing

DSCI & SA Health, 2016

An atlas of six South Australian communities: Mapping the influences on community wellbeing was produced for the South Australian Department for Communities and Social Inclusion (DCSI) and the Department for Health and Ageing (SA Health).

Over the last three decades, numerous reports and studies have highlighted substantial variations in the wellbeing across the South Australian population, and the gaps between those who are doing well, and those who are not. These differences, or ‘inequalities’, are readily apparent across Adelaide, and our rural and remote communities, as they are in other areas of Australia.

This atlas describes the extent and significance of inequalities in individual and community wellbeing, particularly those associated with wider social and economic influences; and points to areas where the impacts of disadvantage across the lifespan, and, in many cases across generations, need to be addressed.

The atlas includes a number of communities in Adelaide and rural and remote parts of the State, identified by these Departments (DCIS and SA Health):

  • Playford and Salisbury in the outer north,
  • Onkaparinga, in the outer south;
  • Those in Regional South Australia are the Anangu Pitjantjatjara Aboriginal Community, Ceduna and Peterborough.

The information, presented as a series of indicators, highlights these inequalities and draws attention to the influence of social, economic and environmental factors on health and wellbeing. The ensuing picture is one of significant differences in outcomes in these communities, compared with similarly located areas.

Download atlas (PDF) here

LGB adults more likely to report impaired physical & mental health, substance use, due to discrimination stressors

JAMA Intern Med. Published online June 27, 2016. doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2016.3432

New national data suggest lesbian, gay and bisexual adults were more likely to report impaired physical and mental health and heavy drinking and smoking, which may be the result of stressors they experience because of discrimination, according to an article published online by JAMA Internal Medicine.

The study objective was to compare health and health risk factors between LGB adults and heterosexual adults in the United States.

This study supports prior research finding substantial health disparities for LGB adults in the United States, potentially due to the stressors that LGB people experience as a result of interpersonal and structural discrimination. In screening for health issues, clinicians should be sensitive to the needs of sexual minority patients.

  • Access journal paper (free full text) here

Flux study first report: drug use among gay men and bisexual men

Kirby Institute, May 2016

The Flux Study, a study of drug use (and non-use) among gay and bisexual men, has recently released its first annual report.

Flux is a cohort study of 2251 men, including over 1700 who are being followed at 6-monthly intervals. It identifies: risk factors, prevalence, incidence, and associated harms of drug use; the role of gay community norms in individuals’ beliefs about drug use; and implications for HIV/HCV infection.

 

Some early key findings show that:

•             Over three quarters (81.6%) have ever used illicit drugs, with half (50.5%) having done so in the previous six months.

•             The most commonly and frequently used drugs were marijuana and amyl nitrite, but over a quarter (28.8%) had used any party drugs (including amphetamine-type stimulants and cocaine) in the previous six months.

•             Men in the sample tended to express fairly negative opinions about illicit drug use within the gay community, although they tended to be less concerned about their own illicit drug use.

•             The two most common reasons for drug use were to enjoy a sexual encounter (61.8%) and socialising (54.5%).

Flux is a collaboration between the Kirby Institute, the National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre (NDARC), the Australian Research Centre in Sex Health and Society (ARCSHS), the Centre for Social Research in Health (CSRH), ACON, and Victorian AIDS Council/Gay Men’s Health Centre.

 Download report (PDF) here 

One in five women giving birth in Australia are 35 or over, data shows

Guardian Australia, Monday 14 December 2015

More than one in five women giving birth in Australia are now aged 35 or over, the latest official figures show.

The latest birth data from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare shows the proportion of mothers aged 35 and older who gave birth increased by four percentage points to 22% in the decade to 2013.

Women who gave birth aged under 24 decreased from 19% to 17%; 30.1 years was the average age in 2013, up from 29.5 years a decade earlier. First-time mothers had an average age of 28.6 years.

Read more here