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Study: Coming Out to Doctors Is Good for Gay Health


Queer men who are up front about their sexuality to physicians are likelier to receive the recommended testing and vaccines.

Haven't come out to your doctor? You may want to consider it.

A new study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows that gay and bi men who had disclosed their sexual orientation and behavior to their physician are more than twice as likely to receive the leading health institute's recommended testing and vaccines.

Due to higher risk factors, men who have sex with men (MSM) are recommended to test annually for chlamydia, HIV, gonorrhea, and syphilis; and be immunized against hepatitis A, hepatitis B, and HPV.

The study, published June in the Sexually Transmitted Disease journal, surveyed 817 MSM (ages 18 to 26) who had seen a doctor in the past year. From this group, 67.1 percent received all screenings for sexually transmitted infections. But that statistic was lower (51 percent) for men who had not disclosed. Only 9 percent of the 817 men received all vaccines. Again, the statistic dropped for the undisclosed (6 percent).

The majority of participants (64.3 percent) had disclosed their sexual history to their doctor, a statistic that gives hope to Dr. Elissa Meites, a researcher on the study.

"This shows us that the patients are doing all the right things," Meites told Reuters Health. "They are going to the doctor regularly and they are willing to speak about their sexual behaviors. It looks like health care providers may be missing some opportunities to provide the best health care to these young men."

To avoid missing these opportunities, Meites recommended that health care providers create a setting "where people can be comfortable revealing their sexual behavior." Providers can also ask patients directly about their sexual history.

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