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Is Your Doctor on “the list of pride”? 1 of 2 Doctors in Lebanon Refuse To Treat LGBTQ Patients…

September 7, 2017 Leave a comment

26well-gaydoctor-tmagArticle

 

It was 2005, right after Former PM Rafik Hariri was assassinated. I was screaming of pain and my parents chose to take me to an Urologist in Beirut. He opened the door and while completely overlooking my aching screams, looked my father sharply in the eyes and bluntly asked him: “are you with or against Syria?”

 

Why is this story relevant now?

 

Because earlier this week, a group of Lebanese doctors have launched an online service that is greatly expected to succeed in creating a safer and more humane medical field in Lebanon where EVERYONE is welcomed to any medical clinic regardless of who they are, look like, wear, think and believe or not believe in.

 

The Lebanese group of doctors practicing in the US, Canada and Lebanon have already founded LebMash, the Lebanese Medical Health Association for Sexual Health back in 2012. This Tuesday, they launched “LebGuide” online at LebMash.org/LebGuide after a year of anticipation, hard work and hope for a better future for all patients in Lebanon inclusively.

 

One must optimistically tend to believe that this anecdote and the attitude of the urologist was just back in 2005 and that doctors of Lebanon do not pick and choose who to provide care for anymore. We like to think they do not choose “customers” rather than patients on the basis of political and religious affiliations and other identity ingredients.

 

Before continuing, you do know that the previous paragraph was sarcastic and that the situation of medical ethics is worsening and that the openness of physicians to every patient out there is not yet accomplished right?

 

Okay, now we can continue to something worse!

 

At least, people of certain religious or political affiliations have had the choice before becoming affiliated with a certain religion or a political party or movement. What about those who have had no choice? What about people of different genders and more importantly people of different sexual orientations?

 

The World Health Organization (WHO) had published an article under the title of “The Five Star Doctor” as an attempt to set clear and simple criteria for a perfect doctor that are comprehensible by the public.

 

One criterion to know if your physician in Lebanon is a five star one is “Equity”. According to the WHO article, “equity, which is central to a socially accountable health care system, means striving towards making high-quality health care available to all.”

 

If it is not already clear, “all” includes people of all colors, races, genders, sexual orientations, political and religious affiliations!

So, are doctors of Lebanon as five-star as we like to think of them?

 

A study conducted by Lebanese doctor Faisal El Kak, unfortunately and yet fortunately revealed that 50% of the studied physicians showed readiness to treat or work with homosexual patients.

 

In the same study of 2010, 73% of the physicians believed that homosexuality is a disease. This is not to get started on how reparative treatments from homosexuality are still being explicitly offered and advertised for in Lebanon and Lebanese media.

According to LebMash’s official website, their aim is to “spread awareness and knowledge, as well as influencing the attitudes and behavior of health-care providers and the general public regarding LGBT health and sexual health.”

 

So how would LebGuide influence the medical scene in Lebanon and its relation with LGBTQ patients?

 

LebGuide provides a search engine in which an LGBT patient or care provider of an LGBT patient can look up the name and location of a physician who guarantees a safe space and pledges a humane and indiscriminate treatment for all patients!

 

Physicians can be looked up by gender, specialization and location. Moreover, a patient can always rate that physician, maybe not in terms of medical expertise but in terms of humane reception of the patient according to his/her experience. People can also suggest physicians to be added to the list of pride as I like to think of it.

 

Presumably, if you are a physician and you are aware that we live in 2017, you definitely not want to be ashamed by your name not being on the list of pride!

 

Hence, today, practices of discrimination against patients of the LGBTQ community can no longer be protected by the doors of the clinics of shame; it is now all in the light and before the eyes of the public.

 

So the question is, would the discriminant physicians really want to face the public with their discrimination? Or will they, as expected, change their mentality even if just for the sake of being on the list?

 

With ultimate hope and close-to-desperate faith, we cannot wait to see LebGuide impacting health institutions in Lebanon so that we can get to a day where if you’re queer and sick, you wouldn’t have to think twice before consulting a doctor or seeking help!

 

LebGuide is thus expected to put an end to clientelism in medicine in Lebanon.

If you are gay you are okay, we know that, but if you are gay and not feeling okay, you should be able to receive help whenever and wherever needed!

 

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شو السبب؟ ?Shu el Sabab

January 12, 2016 Leave a comment

ما بهم شو السبب، المثليّة منّا مرض: فيلم تثقيفي حول التصنيف الطبي للمثليّة الجنسية. “شو السبب؟” هو السؤال الأول الذي يراودنا عند مقاربة موضوع المثلية الجنسية في لبنان

أظهرت دراسة حديثة أعدها مركز الموارد الجندرية والجنسانية لدى المؤسسة العربية للحرية والمساواة أن ٧٢٪ من اللبنانيين واللبنانيات يعتقدون بأن المثلية الجنسية هي حالة اضطراب نفسي، لا سيما وأن بعض مهنيي الصحة النفسية في لبنان ما زالوا يمارسون أنواع مختلفة من علاجات تحويل الميول الجنسي وذلك خلافاً لأعراف الطب النفسي العالمية واللبنانية

تأسّست الجمعية الطبية اللبنانية للصحة الجنسية (لبماش) في لبنان في ٤ أيلول/سبتمبر ٢٠١٢، وهي منظّمةٌ غبر حكوميّةٍ لا تبغي الرّبح. تهدف جمعية لبماش إلى تحسين الصحّة الجنسية لجميع الأفراد في لبنان، مع التركيز بشكلٍ خاصٍّ على المثليين والمثليات ومزدوجي/ات الميول الجنسيّة والمتحوّلين/ات جنسيًا، وغيرهم/ن من الفئات المهمّشة في لبنان

لتصويب الرأي العام حول تصنيف المثلية الجنسية كحالة اجتماعية غير مرضية، أعدَّت جمعية لبماش فيلم رسوم متحركة يسلط الضوء على الموضوع ويشير إلى عدم جدوى علاجات تحويل الميول الجنسي والتي غالباً ما يكون تأثيرها سلبياً

شو السبب؟ هو فيلم رسوم متحركة يستند على شهادات حياة لمثليين ومثليّات من لبنان، شاركوا في مجموعات تركيز أجرتها لبماش لِتدوين تجربتهم/ن الشخصية، صَمَّمته ونفّذته جيسيكا عازار بتمويل كريم من السفارة السويسريّة في بيروت

Shu el Sabab? (what is the cause?) is one of the most frequently asked questions regarding homosexuality in Lebanon. A recent study conducted by the Gender & Sexuality Resource Center (GSRC) at the Arab Foundation for Freedoms and Equality (AFE) showed that 72% of the Lebanese population perceive homosexuality as a mental disorder. Some mental health professionals in Lebanon continue to practice various forms of conversion therapy against the recommendations of international and Lebanese mental health professional organizations

The Lebanese Medical Association for Sexual Health (LebMASH) produced this movie to address these issues and increase awareness regarding homosexuality, its “cause”, lack of efficacy of conversion therapy, and its potential harmful effects

This movie was designed and animated by the talented Jessica Azar. It was made possible by a generous grant from the Swiss Embassy in Lebanon. This movie is based on the stories of gay and lesbian individuals living in Lebanon who participated in focus groups conducted by LebMASH

This is what the doctor told me about LGV

November 3, 2014 Leave a comment

IMG_8877Lymphogranuloma venereum (LGV) is a sexually transmissible infection (STI). It has occurred in outbreaks in Western Europe and North America. Since talking about sexual health lately is no longer a taboo in our area, I visited a clinic in Hamra (close to Costa cafe, same building as SGBL) recommended by a friend to talk to a young doctor who reported recently the first case of LGV in Lebanon in an HIV-negative MSM (Man who has sex with a man). A very calm and welcoming environment you get its vibes once you get the “blue-ashy” clinic of Dr. Ismaël Maatouk, a Dermato-Venereologist who works in Beirut, and welcomes all patient with no discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity for more than 3 years. Dr. Maatouk, have in his records more then 40 publications and several appearances in worldwide conferences talking about STI’s.

Below are his answers to some of my questions:

What is LGV?

It is an infection caused by three types (L1, L2 and L3) of the bacterium Chlamydia trachomatis.

IS it the same Chlamydia we know?

Yes, the same bacteria, but different sub-types.

Is it a new described infection?

No, it is an old infection and since 2003, initial clusters of LGV cases in MSM were reported in the Netherlands followed by a series of outbreaks in Europe, North America and Australia, mainly among HIV-positive MSM. However, it is not an MSM disease: it can infect sexually active people.

Is this infection frequent in MSM in those countries?

A large study in MSM from London and Brighton showed an estimated prevalence of LGV of 0.90% in the rectum and only 0.04% in the urethra.

Is it also present in the pharyngeal area, like the other types of Chlamydia?

Yes, Chlamydia is known to be found during standard STI screening of the urethra, rectum, pharyngeal mucosa. The prevalence of pharyngeal Chlamydia in London MSM is 1.2%.

What is the clinical presentation of this infection?

The classical presentation of LGV is inguinal lymphadenitis and abscess formation sometimes preceded by anogenital ulceration. Which means that we rarely find the genital ulceration associated with LGV because it is transient. Following this transient ulceration, we have an inflammation of the lymphatic ganglia that drains the region, which can be painful and can lead the patient to ask for a consultation. This inflammation looks like an abscess.

Is there any test we can perform to confirm the diagnosis?

Yes, a test based on PCR.

Is the treatment difficult?

No, it is a 3-week course of doxycycline.

Do we search for this disease in Lebanon?

In a routine consultation, No. The test is expensive.

I have read that recently, you reported the first case of LGV in Lebanon. Was it in a HIV-positive MSM as well?

No, it was in a HIV-negative MSM. However, it can infect any patient, regardless of HIV status and sexual orientation.

Do you see other STIs in your clinic? I mean severe cases like syphilis? Are these cases frequent?

We have syphilis, they are definitely not frequent, but they exist.

What do you think of LebMASH?

I really appreciate the work that these doctors are doing. Helping and being there for the LGBT community is what we need in our days. I support them to the maximum.

Special thanks to Doctor Ismaël Maatouk

By: Alex.

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