LGBTQ+ Health: Sexual and Gender Diversity
University Health Services (UHS) strives to provide high quality health care in an environment of inclusivity and respect. We understand that seeing a new health care provider can be stressful, particularly if you are concerned about being misunderstood or unfairly and inappropriately judged. We value our patients and understand that choosing us as your health care provider means that you are entrusting us with your health and well-being.
Our patients have a right to expect sensitive, respectful, high quality health care and we have the responsibility and privilege of providing that care. We encourage and provide training for our staff on health care challenges encountered by our sexual and gender diverse communities and look for ways to improve our systems and communications so that we can better serve those who seek care from us.
- Annual Health Exams/Acute and Chronic Illness Services
Routine annual health exams are one way to assess overall health and to address health care needs and concerns. These exams allow the patient and clinician to discuss current patient concerns and develop a plan to meet future health care needs.
Acute illness exams are targeted towards recent or current symptoms experienced by patients. During these types of appointments, providers offer evaluation of recent or current symptoms and discuss treatment options.
Patients with chronic medical conditions are encouraged to schedule appointments with the same UHS clinician to maintain continuity of care and allow for a better health care experience. If you are seeing a private health care provider for a chronic or continuing health condition, UHS staff will be happy to work with you and your provider to continue care while you are a student.
- Sexual Health
Routine examinations are a way to maintain health and detect early changes that may need further evaluation. We have clinicians who have specialized training and education in women’s health/gynecology, men’s health, and transgender/gender non-binary health care. Patients who have breasts, a uterus, a cervix, ovaries, and/or fallopian tubes may schedule women’s health appointments with a clinician trained to provide this care. Patients who have a penis, testicles, or a prostate gland may be best served by seeing a trained clinician through a men’s health appointment. Transgender/gender non-binary patients may choose to see a clinician trained to provide trans care.
- Transgender, Gender Non-Conforming, and Gender Non-Binary Care
A multi-disciplinary team, known as the LIONS Team (Living In Our Natural Selves), provides care specific to trans/non-binary individuals. The team is comprised of physicians, a nurse practitioner, social workers/ case managers, and counselors/psychologists. Services to evaluate, treat, and/or assist with referrals when appropriate are provided. Students undergoing hormone therapy can bring their medications along with an order from the prescribing physician to a University Health Services provider for review and administration. Nurses can teach you to self-administer medication.
- Medications: can be special ordered through the University Health Services Pharmacy. Please check with your insurance provider regarding policy requirement and specific benefits.
- Preferred Name and Pronouns: Please indicate if you prefer a name other than your current legal name when scheduling your appointment. A note will be added to your medical chart and your medical team will use this name while caring for you. You can also indicate your transition status while scheduling your first appointment. Knowing your transition status will help your health care team provide you with the best care possible. For preferred pronouns and gender, you may go to MyUHS, sign-in, and select from the options. Please note that these changes will only occur in the UHS electronic health record and will not transfer to other Penn State systems. For larger University name changes, please visit the Transgender and Non-Binary at Penn State page.
- Contraception: Contraception may be a concern for trans men who have sex with men yet possess female reproductive organs including vagina, uterus, ovaries, and fallopian tubes. A long-acting reversible contraceptive, such as an IUD, may be an effective method to consider. For patients who have a cervix, a pap test may be indicated. Our trans care providers and triage nurses can assist you in determining the most appropriate care and testing to meet your contraceptive and future reproductive needs.
- Fertility Preservation: If you are undecided or already know you want to be a parent in the future, a member of the LIONS Team can discuss your options.
Amato, P. (2018). Fertility options for transgender persons. Center of Excellence for Transgender Health, University of California, San Francisco. Retrieved from: http://transhealth.ucsf.edu/trans?page=guidelines-fertility.
- Sexually Transmitted Infection Detection and Treatment
We provide testing, and treatment of sexually transmitted infections when indicated, including chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis, HPV, herpes, molluscum, trichomoniasis, and hepatitis. Self-testing options for gonorrhea and chlamydia are also offered.
- HIV Preventative Treatment
PrEP (HIV Pre-exposure Prophylaxis):
Safer sex practices, such as use of a condom with every sexual act, can reduce the risk of sexually transmitted infections, including HIV. For some individuals, the use of pre-exposure prophylaxis in conjunction with condoms, may be the best option for reducing the risk of HIV infection. PrEP involves taking a daily medication that contains the HIV treatment medications tenofovir and emtricitabine (brand name Truvada). These medications can have side effects which is why it is important to see your prescribing clinician regularly (at least every 3 months). During these appointments, the clinician will talk with you and order lab tests to make sure you are not developing any adverse side effects from the medication.
Risk factors for HIV for which PrEP may be effective include:
- Ongoing sexual relationship with an HIV positive partner
- People who have used IV drugs in the past 6 months and shared needles or works, or
- Anyone who is not in a mutually monogamous sexual relationship AND
- Is a gay or bisexual man who had anal sex without using a condom or diagnosed with an STD in the past 6 months, or
- Is a heterosexual man or woman who does not consistently use condoms during sex with partners whose HIV status is unknown or are at an increased risk for HIV.
When taken appropriately PrEP, in combination with other safer sex strategies such as condom use with every sexual contact, is an effective option to reduce the risk of HIV infection in people who do not currently have HIV but are at substantial risk for acquiring the infection. A clinician appointment at UHS is necessary for receiving and continuing this treatment option.
For additional information on PrEP, please visit the CDC website at https://www.cdc.gov/hiv/risk/prep/.
nPEP (HIV Post-exposure Prophylaxis):
HIV post-exposure prophylaxis refers to the use of HIV antiretroviral drugs following a single high-risk event to reduce the risk of HIV infection. Treatment includes the use of 3 antiviral drugs taken for 28 consecutive days and is available at UHS by appointment. Those who engage in high-risk behaviors more than once a year may be better served by using PrEP (see above information) rather than nPEP. Treatment may be indicated:
- if started within 72 hours of contact, and
- when the source of the body fluids is known to have HIV, or
- following high risk activity where the HIV status of the body fluids host is unknown.
Additional information may be found at: https://www.cdc.gov/hiv/basics/pep.html.
Vaccines offer an important means to maintain health and prevent infection. Vaccines that all sexually active people should have include:
- Hepatitis B: It is now a common practice in the U.S. to begin the 3-dose Hepatitis B vaccine series at birth, with completion of the series before the first birthday. Hepatitis B is transmitted through blood and other potentially infectious body fluids, including semen and vaginal secretions.
- Hepatitis A: The vaccine is often given in the U.S. during childhood and to people who travel internationally. The vaccine is administered as a 2-dose series.
- HPV (Human Papillomavirus Vaccine):This 3-dose vaccine series has been shown to be effective in preventing different HPV strains that most frequently cause oral, anal, cervical, and other genital cancers and genital warts. The FDA approved expanding the approved use of the vaccine to men and women ages 27 through 45.
Additional information on immunizations can be found at the UHS website .