April 15, 2010 | by Kevin Naff
Health news in brief

Navratilova has breast cancer, says prognosis is good

NEW YORK — Lesbian tennis legend Martina Navratilova announced last week that she’s been diagnosed with a noninvasive form of breast cancer and her prognosis for a full recovery is considered excellent.

Navratilova said in an interview Wednesday with ESPN that a routine mammogram in January found a lump, and a biopsy the following month determined it was ductal carcinoma in situ, or DCIS. The nine-time Wimbledon women’s singles champion had a lumpectomy in March and will start six weeks of radiation therapy next month, ESPN reported.

“It was such a shock for me,” Navratilova said. “It was my 9/11.”

In a subsequent appearance on ABC’s “Good Morning America,” Navratilova told Robin Roberts, also a breast cancer survivor, “It is just in that one breast. I’m OK and I’ll make a full recovery.”

More than 50,000 women each year are diagnosed with DCIS, in which abnormal cells haven’t left the milk duct to penetrate breast tissue. Only about 2 percent of DCIS patients die of breast cancer in the next 10 years, according to the National Institutes of Health.

Navratilova said she initially wanted to keep her diagnosis quiet but decided she could help others by going public. ESPN also reported that Navratilova plans to work as a commentator for the Tennis Channel during the French Open while undergoing radiation in Paris.

“I’m this healthy person, I’ve been healthy all my life, and all of a sudden I have cancer. Are you kidding me?” she said on GMA.

Navratilova won 59 Grand Slam titles, including 18 in singles, 31 in doubles and 10 in mixed doubles.

LGBT people less likely to have health insurance: report

HARTFORD, Conn. — LGBT people suffer poorer health outcomes than the general population, in part because they are twice as likely to not have health insurance, according to a report by the Public News Service.

During the eighth annual LGBT Health Awareness Week, sponsored by the National Coalition for LGBT Health, LGBT people were urged to look after six aspects of their own health: mental health; sexual health; substance use, including tobacco and alcohol; heart health; fitness, including diet and exercise; and domestic violence and safety, said Dan Millett, who is with client services of the Hartford Gay & Lesbian Health Collective.

“Domestic abuse is usually a man abusing a woman in a heterosexual relationship but, unfortunately, in a same-gender relationship, there is abuse within these relationships also,” Millett told Public News Service.
 He added that the concerns of the LGBT community are often not a priority for health professionals, so LGBT people need to take more initiative.
”Wouldn’t now be a good time to see your physician about getting a check-up or talking to someone about your fitness, or heart disease,” the report quoted Millett as saying.

Clint Walters, well-known HIV activist, dies in U.K.

LONDON — Clint Walters, a gay HIV activist prominent in the United Kingdom, died of a heart attack this week, according to a report in Pink News. He was 31.

Walters, who was 17 when he was diagnosed with the disease, died at his home in London on Sunday.

After being diagnosed, he worked to raise awareness of HIV among young people, touring schools around England, according to Pink News. He also ran the London Marathon and took part in skydiving and cycling races to raise money.

The report quoted Walters in 2007 saying, “Why do I have this nagging feeling the gay scene is losing touch with what’s really important – compassion for the safety of your fellow man. Have all the 24-hour clubs, drugs and alcohol finally [taken] their toll or was it ever there in the first place?

“So, I’ve decided to turn my positive diagnosis on its head and shout it from the roof tops. If you don’t take full responsibility and call the shots, then who will?”

U.S. seeks to reduce costs of HIV program abroad

WASHINGTON — U.S. officials have asked some AIDS clinics overseas to stop enrolling new patients in a program that provides antiretroviral drugs, in an effort to reduce the rising costs of the assistance programs, according to a report in the Boston Globe that cites interviews with doctors and official correspondence.

While “Obama administration officials say they are not capping the number of patients receiving antiretroviral drugs … they acknowledge that they are seeking to control the ever-rising costs of the program, known as the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, which has grown from $2.3 billion in 2004 to nearly $7 billion this year,” the Boston Globe reported.

The article examines the effects of budget pressures on HIV/AIDS clinics in Africa, including several in Uganda that received a memo last year stating, according to the Boston Globe: “‘The U.S. government recognizes that in the coming years, the number of patients in need of antiretroviral treatment will increase dramatically,’ it read. ‘While the US government is committed to continuing treatment for those individuals already enrolled . . . funding for HIV programs is not expected to increase in the near future. As a result, PEPFAR Uganda cannot continue to support scale up of antiretroviral treatment without a plan from the Government of Uganda on how these patients will be sustained.’”

Eric Goosby, the U.S. global AIDS coordinator, told the Globe that the letter merely asked clinics not to exceed their agreed-upon budgets, though he acknowledged that the funds do not meet the needs on the ground.

“In Obama’s first year, the growth of funding for the AIDS program slowed,” the report said. “Obama campaigned on a pledge to add $1 billion a year, but asked Congress for an increase of only $366 million for 2010 because of the recession. That has pushed thousands of people onto waiting lists for the drugs, including children, according to interviews with more than two dozen health care providers across Africa.”

Kevin Naff is the editor and a co-owner of the Washington Blade, the nation’s oldest and most acclaimed LGBT news publication, founded in 1969.

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