At the conclusion of the American Medical Association’s (AMA) Annual Meeting Wednesday, the GLMA: Health Professionals Advancing LGBT Equality (formerly Gay & Lesbian Medical Association) praised the AMA for adopting new policies aimed at improving the health and well-being of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals.
“The voice of the AMA has great influence and helps set the standard for the healthcare industry, and these new policies will have significant impact on the health of the LGBT community,” said Hector Vargas, GLMA’s Executive Director. “We are proud to have played a role in supporting these policies and look forward to continuing to address critical LGBT health issues by contributing to the development and adoption of future AMA policy statements related to LGBT health.”
During its meeting this week, the AMA voted GLMA into its House of Delegates, becoming the first and only LGBT organization to sit in the policy-making body of the largest physician group in the country.
In its first annual meeting as a member of the House of Delegates, GLMA, a national organization devoted to achieving equality in healthcare for LGBT individuals and health professionals, supported the adoption of the following policies:
- Revised Blood Donor Deferral Criteria: This policy supports the elimination of the lifetime ban on blood donation by men who have sex with men (MSM). The Food and Drug Administration policy currently bans any man who has had sex with another man since 1977 from donating blood. This policy was adopted in the early 1980s and has not been significantly updated since then to take into account advances in blood testing and the prevention of HIV. The AMA policy supports “rational, scientifically-based” policies on blood and tissue donation. GLMA President Desi Bailey spoke in committee in support of this policy and voted in support of the policy in the House of Delegates.
- Early Treatment and Partner Services for HIV: This policy supports physician education of “treatment as prevention,” including early treatment of individuals newly diagnosed with HIV, as a means to help stop of the spread of HIV. “Treatment as Prevention” has been touted as a significant strategy that may lead to an end of the HIV and AIDS epidemic. GLMA President Desi Bailey spoke in committee in support of this policy and voted in support of the policy in the House of Delegates.
- Conforming Birth Certificate Policies to Current Medical Standards for Transgender Patients: This policy will help lift significant barriers transgender individuals face in trying to change the gender marker on a birth certificate. The new AMA policy supports policies that these birth certificate changes can be accomplished through a physician’s verification that a person has undergone gender transition according to applicable medical standards. Many states currently require a person to show proof of surgery to change a gender marker on a birth certificate, contrary to the Standards of Care established by the World Professional Association for Transgender Health. Just last week, the Social Security Administration adopted a similar policy for changes on a Social Security card/record. Several GLMA members who are also AMA members provided online testimony in support of this policy and GLMA President Desi Bailey spoke in committee in support of this policy.
- Discrimination Against Patients by Medical Students: This policy ensures medical students may not refuse to participate in the care of a patient based on several factors, including sexual orientation and gender identity. Since medical students frequently participate in care for patients, the policy fills a gap and brings medical students under a similar policy relating to nondiscrimination in care by physicians.
- Confidential Care for Minors: This policy is a change to the AMA’s Medical Code of Ethics supporting the ability of physicians to provide care to youth for prevention of sexually transmitted diseases absent of parental knowledge or consent. This policy is of significant importance to LGBT youth, who may not be out to their parents or family. The AMA’s Code of Ethics already supports confidential care in relation to treatment of sexually transmitted diseases.
“The AMA and its GLBT Advisory Committee have played a critical role in raising awareness of and support for LGBT health issues,” Vargas said. “The policies adopted during this week’s AMA meeting continue that tradition and move us further toward GLMA’s goal of LGBT health equality.”