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Thoughts On Some Doctors' Biases On Gay/HIV Patients?

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My doctor is gay and works primarily with HIV patients for the most part.  If i ever need to see a specialist i get a referral from him and never had had any problems.  I even had him refer me to a dentist.

I went to the ER last October and i advised both the nurse and doctor and neither of them batted an eye, they just did what they do.  But I can see that some doctors may have some issues, i just haven't encountered it thus far.  Maybe because i live in a large city i don't know.

My periodic visits to the doctors are always an emotional disturbance for me. Despite my best efforts to remain rational, my emotions can have a far bigger impact than I would like when it comes to my doctor visits.  There is so much cultural and societal baggage tied up in an HIV diagnoses that it is easy to become sensitive and overly sensitive to perceived reactions from others.

Assuming that the healthcare professionals really do want to succeed in helping their patients, then I think they do have some share in reducing barriers to care, including building a relationship of trust with the patients.

My initial diagnoses and initial care was fraught with missteps and mistakes, and placed a much heavier burden on me than should have been-- especially at that point in time in my care.  However, it was the human touch and sincerity of the staff at the HIV clinic that helped me past those problems, despite my initial misgivings on the quality of care I was receiving from them.

My primary doctor is my ID specialist, and he always makes an effort to be caring and warm, as well as taking the time to go into as much detail about health topics as I need or want.  I later found out he travels to Africa almost annually to help train doctors there, and help treat patients.

The senior physician in the anal dysphasia group of the clinic is the ultimate charmer, complete with british accent and fantastic bedside manor.  I absolutely hate visits to that group, but he makes it the easiest it could possibly be.  Now he has a young (and disconcertingly good looking) doctor working with him, who almost amusingly talks from the same script.  What seems natural with the senior doctor still comes across a bit rote and scripted with the younger one.  Perhaps with time and practice he'll develop the more natural delivery. 

The only doctor that I know for sure is gay is the charming British one, though I would guess his younger counter part dresses way too stylish to not be as well. :-)
But in the end, even if none of them were gay, acting as they do, they make it very very clear in words and actions that as far as they are concerned, knowing a patient is gay only helps them be better at caring for that patient.

Whenever I have seen anyone outside of the clinic, it was on the referral of my ID specialist, and so far the few I met that way were just fine,  AND by nature of the referral immediately knew that I was HIV+ and factored that in as needed.

So much rides on your health, and if you are like me and find the doctor visits stressful, then by all means try your best to find doctors that ease the stress and not add to it!

I have listed below my post to a similar discussion thread here about 4 1/2 years ago.  My sentiments remain the same today.

Online OneTampa

Re: HIPAA violation?
Reply #30 on: September 12, 2007, 06:44:16 PM



As I type this my fingers are moving fiercely across the keyboard.  Normally I don't advocate high aggressive behavior but in this case even Mother Theresa would say "Bury the bitch and the shack where she works!"  You[r] post clearly touched and inflamed some nerves in all of us here at this message board as we all deeply feel for you.  We are already in a anxious state with this virus, we sure as hell don't need a fool, in the medical profession or health services [of all places], making us feel even more miserable.

Several years ago, I had a similar experience with an uncouth ear nose and throat doctor who was very snippy with me.  I tore him a new tunnel for an asshole and told him not to lay a hand on me. I then promptly walked to the front desk and asked to see the head of the department.  And this was at a highly regarded hospital in the Washington DC area.  I was promptly assigned another doctor who treats m[e] like royalty to this day.

Many here made some very good suggestions encouraging you to contact the pharmacy store management, headquarters, customer service, legal counsel, media etc.

Bottom line--honey, you have the power.  Use it!

Huge hug!

Great responses guys, thanks..I have found that my HIV/infectious disease docs, as well as my primary docs, who are in the same clinic, are VERY nice, caring, and sympathetic, they are always proactive and want to help in anyway they can. And in instances where I have been referred for specialist care for other issues, mostly my experiences have been positive. There's always going to be a doc you don't click with, for whatever reason, and sometimes that's just their demeanor regardless of sexual orientation/hiv status.

But I do think some docs out there, regardless of their intentions, have inherent biases against gay people and hiv patients. These seem to be more of the specialist docs for some reason. I live in a mid-sized city, which is fairly blue, in a very very red state. Luckily the hiv clinic I go to is excellent.

But I was referred recently to the colorectal clinic in the same hospital where my hiv clinic is, and they only have two colorectal doctors there, a lady and a man. The lady was very cold and distant, and didn't spend any time with me to discuss my issues and seemed like it was a chore to deal with me. So I tried the male doc, and he was a bit better, but still a bit rushed and aloof. Seemed to just shrug and give hurried answers when I tried to ask about my rectal polyp. I just didn't feel comfortable with him.

So I decided to seek out a specialist colorectal clinic in my town, outside of the healthcare system where I get my hiv care. I didn't want to do this, because it makes things more complicated, and my insurance is limited, but I had to get the poly out, and I wanted a more understanding doc.

I went to the colorectal clinic and all the patients seemed to be very very elderly, and the whole place just seemed pretty uptight. I met the colorectal doc, and he was very professional and informative, but again, didn't seem to want to hear about any hiv-related questions I had. When I had my colonoscopy, I had to have a relative there with me of course, because I couldn't drive afterwards. I am not the type to confide my personal business to family members, so noone in my family knows of my hiv status, so I made sure to tell the nurses and the colorectal doc that I did not want my HIV status disclosed at all. They complied with this, but it seemed that the doc acted a bit weird when I asked this. He seemed like it bothered him. Not sure why, it's my right to not want that mentioned! He was competent, but bedside manner a bit weird. So not sure if I just need to try yet another colorectal doc, or just ask my primary doc if she knows of one in my area who is known to be very good with hiv-related issues/gay men's health.

I think the bottom line is, don't settle. If you have to be referred for any kind of specialist care, make sure they doc is attentive and competent, has great credentials, and is very open and willing to discuss any health questions you have. After all that's their job. Because I live in a mid-sized town, I don't have as many options as far as specialized care as others, but I am definately not one to settle for someone I don't feel 100% comfortable with. Aside from competence, bedside manner is HUGELY important, especially to me!

If I read correctly, you have seen 3 ass doctors and all 3 were not up to snuff.

Maybe your experience proves that this personality type goes into that field??  :o

Perhaps you aren't all that comfortable about your ass being out of whack, so you're looking for more sensitivity than can realistically be expected...??

The ass doc who did my colonoscopy was older, elegant and rather formal in his manner.  But very professional and knew a few things about HIV...

I had an ass doc once in university who was a post-frat type.  He even invited my lover at the time who was in med school to come and watch them dilate my bottom big enough to shove a football in, said my lover, after the fact...

Maybe elegant, formal and aloof is the way to go when it comes to ass doctoring.  I mean, they might be worried others judge them a bit, having to work around butts all day...  Maybe they overcompensate...


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