A new survey of primarily gay, lesbian, and bisexual men and women has found that although more than 40% visit their doctor more than once a year, about 35% of men and 45% of women say their physicians have never asked them about their sexual behavior or history.
``Whether you're homosexual, bisexual or heterosexual, doctors should absolutely be inquiring about sexual practice and discussing STDs. But it's not happening and it's not getting better, and it has to change,'' said Dr. Stephen Goldstone, the medical director of GayHealth.com, the Web site that conducted the survey.
Survey results showed that 22% of the men and 30% of the women said their doctors ``rarely'' ask them about their sexual practices. Almost 25% of men and 16% of women said the topic arises only when they bring it up themselves.
Among the men, 40% said they had not been vaccinated for either hepatitis A or B--two liver infections for which gay men are at high risk.
Men said that after HIV (news - web sites)/AIDS (news - web sites), the health topic that concerned them most was depression, followed by other sexually transmitted diseases. More than 40% said they had been diagnosed with depression or anxiety at one time.
Depression also topped the list of the biggest health concerns among women, with more than half saying they had been diagnosed with either anxiety or depression at some point.
Goldstone expressed little surprise at the survey results.
``There is a reticence to talk about sexual practice because gays and lesbians have met tremendous homophobia from the medical community and society at large, and so they're afraid to disclose sexual practices,'' he said.
Goldstone suggested that patients find a physician they can turn to for answers and trust. And he urged physicians to offer total patient care by initiating a frank sexual discussion.
``If doctors simply ask a patient about their sexual preference it opens a dialogue,'' he said. ``It shows you care and you're interested, in addition to taking a thorough history. If a doctor would ask, it would show them that it's safe to talk, so a patient can say 'Hey, I'm having trouble'.''
Apart from the fact that I think one should be discussing STDs with ones doc NO MATTER what orientation one is; I think they make a good point here. I remember reading for example, that many non-straight women rarely get Pap smears, simply because they don't get regular gynecological check ups (no need for contraception, right?) and didn't get checks for HPV either.