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Daily Recap: Transgender patients turn to DIY treatments; ACIP plans priority vaccine groups


Here are the stories our MDedge editors across specialties think you need to know about today:

Ignored by doctors, transgender patients turn to DIY treatments

Without access to quality medical care, trans people around the world are seeking hormones from friends or through illegal online markets, even when the cost exceeds what it would through insurance. Although rare, others are resorting to self-surgery by cutting off their own penis and testicles or breasts.

Even with a doctor’s oversight, the health risks of transgender hormone therapy remain unclear, but without formal medical care, the do-it-yourself transition may be downright dangerous. To minimize these risks, some experts suggest health care reforms such as making it easier for primary care physicians to assess trans patients and prescribe hormones or creating specialized clinics where doctors prescribe hormones on demand.

Treating gender dysphoria should be just like treating a patient for any other condition. “It wouldn't be acceptable for someone to come into a primary care provider’s office with diabetes” and for the doctor to say “‘I can't actually treat you. Please leave,’” Zil Goldstein, associate medical director for transgender and gender non-binary health at the Callen-Lorde Community Health Center in New York City. Primary care providers need to see transgender care, she adds, “as a regular part of their practice.” Read more.

ACIP plans priority groups in advance of COVID-19 vaccine

Early plans for prioritizing vaccination when a COVID-19 vaccine becomes available include placing critical health care workers in the first tier, according to Sarah Mbaeyi, MD, MPH, of the CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases.

A COVID-19 vaccine work group is developing strategies and identifying priority groups for vaccination to help inform discussions about the use of COVID-19 vaccines, Dr. Mbaeyi said at a virtual meeting of the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices.

Based on current information, the work group has proposed that vaccine priority be given to health care personnel, essential workers, adults aged 65 years and older, long-term care facility residents, and persons with high-risk medical conditions.

Among these groups “a subset of critical health care and other workers should receive initial doses,” Dr. Mbaeyi said. Read more.

‘Nietzsche was wrong’: Past stressors do not create psychological resilience.

The famous quote from the German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche, “That which does not kill us makes us stronger,” may not be true after all – at least when it comes to mental health.

Results of a new study show that individuals who have a history of a stressful life events are more likely to develop PTSD and/or major depressive disorder (MDD) following a major natural disaster than their counterparts who do not have such a history.

The investigation of more than a thousand Chilean residents – all of whom experienced one of the most powerful earthquakes in the country’s history – showed that the odds of developing postdisaster PTSD or MDD increased according to the number of predisaster stressors participants had experienced.

“At the clinical level, these findings help the clinician know which patients are more likely to need more intensive services,” said Stephen L. Buka, PhD. “And the more trauma and hardship they’ve experienced, the more attention they need and the less likely they’re going to be able to cope and manage on their own.” Read more.

High-impact training can build bone in older women

Older adults, particularly postmenopausal women, are often advised to pursue low-impact, low-intensity exercise as a way to preserve joint health, but that approach might actually contribute to a decline in bone mineral density, researchers report.

Concerns about falls and fracture risk have led many clinicians to advise against higher-impact activities, like jumping, but that is exactly the type of activity that improves bone density and physical function, said Belinda Beck, PhD, professor at the Griffith University School of Allied Health Sciences in Southport, Australia. But new findings show that high-intensity resistance and impact training was a safe and effective way to improve bone mass.

“Once women hit 60, they’re somehow regarded as frail, but that becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy when we take this kinder, gentler approach to exercise,” said Vanessa Yingling, PhD. Read more.

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