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The relationship between homosexuality and medical science has a long and controversial history, covering many countries and stretching across a wide spectrum of specialities, from psychology to epistemology to genetics. This article seeks to provide a brief summary of this history and a deal with some of the issues regarding homosexuality and medical science.

HistoryEdit

The real history of homosexuality and medical science begins with the European sexologist movement which eventually spawned modern psychology. For a detailed discussion of this please see the article 'Homosexuality and psychology'.

HIV crisis Edit

When the HIV virus first became widespead in the 1980s, baffled epidemiologists sometimes described the collective symptoms they were seeing as the 'gay disease' or 'gay cancer' because it appeared to be largely restricted to gay men. The United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention named the syndrome Gay Related Immune Deficiency (GRID), a name which was later replaced with Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) when it was discovered that the infected population also included heterosexuals.

AIDS was a turning point for the gay community. Despite the fact that AIDS had not yet reached pandemic proportions and more people were dying each year from Hepatitis A and B, broad media coverage was given to the AIDS epidemic in relation to the gay community. Many in the social conservative lobby saw this as evidence that what they called the "gay lifestyle" was inherently dangerous. Conversely, the gay community, beleaguered by the growing health problem as well as attacks from the press and politicians, were united by the threat. They quickly began to fight back through activism and education. Many new gay rights and gay health groups formed, such as Gay Men's Health Crisis (GMHC), and outreached to the media, politicians, and celebrities.

ACT UP, the AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power, whose famous slogans include, "Silence Equals Death," organized and inventively protested on many AIDS issues including treatment, research funding, drug access, and discrimination in an effort to draw attention to the health issue.

The AIDS crisis also helped to organize the gay community. In many ways, it helped jump-start and unify the Gay Rights Movement in the aftermath of the disappointing sexual liberation movement and set the scene for the gay liberation movement during and after the 1990s.

IssuesEdit

Methods Of Reproduction Used By Same-Sex CouplesEdit

In recent years medical breakthroughs have opened a wide array of choices available to same-sex couples to have biological children.

The Main Procedures Used Are:

Gay men in long term relationships are now increasingly opting to raise families. Many methods have been devised to allow them to have biological children. Some couples elect to have a close relative (sometimes a sister), good friend, or contract an individual to either obtain an egg for a surrogate or give birth through in vitro fertilization. In the cases of a good friend or a contracted entity the child is only biologically related to one partner. However in the cases of a blood relative such as a sister of one partner who donates an egg that is fertilized with the other partner's sperm and placed into a surrogate the child is biologically related to both partners.

Lesbian couples can also produce biological children through similar manners. Some elect to have one partner donate an egg which is fertilized with a blood relative of the other partner, sometimes a brother. The egg is then placed into the partner who did not donate the egg. In essence one partner gives birth to her partner's and sometimes brother's biological child. This is not to be confused with incest since the child is not a biological offspring of a brother and sister, rather it is a biological offspring of the brother and the sister's partner. The sister only acts as a vehicle of the birth.

These procedures can be costly, and many same-sex couples choose adoption instead. However adoption does not produce a child that is biologically related in any manner.

Gay rights and medicineEdit

Many object to the labeling of any medical condition as a "gay disease" because of its implicit assumptions. Medical conditions can strike anyone regardless of their sexual orientation, although certain behaviors can increase one's chances of acquiring them. Other major intersections of gay rights with medicine include hospital visitation issues, end-of-life decision making and access/barriers to care caused by denial of civil marriages to same-sex couples. (See same-sex marriage)

GeneticsEdit

The advent of modern genetic science has seen revived interest in the argument of nature versus nurture as a cause of sexual orientation as well as advances in the treatment of AIDS and other diseases. The precise ramifications of this and modern biotechnology are not yet apparent.

However, some scientific studies have pointed to findings that gay mens' brain anatomy is similar to heterosexual women and different from their heterosexual male counterparts. [citation needed] Other findings include that fingerprints of gay men match closely with those of heterosexual women [citation needed], and fingerprints are formed 16 weeks after conception within the womb, which could point to homosexuality being determined by genetic factors [citation needed]. In identical twins, researchers have also found that if one self-identifies as a gay man or lesbian the chance of the other being gay is greatly increased at 50%. [citation needed] Scientific inquiry into the reasons for homosexuality is still an emerging field of study, and more current research is constantly changing the way science views homosexuality.

It is worth noting though that many medical and scientific organisations do believe it is impossible to change a person's sexual orientation, a position exemplified in a statement by American Academy of Pediatrics, American Counseling Association, American Association of School Administrators, American Federation of Teachers, American Psychiatric Association, American Psychological Association, American School Health Association, Interfaith Alliance Foundation, National Association of School Psychologists, National Association of Social Workers, and National Education Association, in 1999 reading:

See Homosexuality, Genetics and sexual orientation and Sexual orientation for more information.

LesbianismEdit

Lesbians are less at risk of exposure to sexually transmitted diseases than any other group including heterosexuals. [citation needed] In the case of certain types of cancer, though, this is not true. Most likely due to barriers to care, both social and psychological, lesbians are less likely to receive regular screening examinations, and therefore more likely to develop advanced cases of cervical cancer or breast cancer. [citation needed] The general tendency among lesbians never to have been pregnant also increases the risk for both diseases. [citation needed] In recent years, however, many lesbian couples are choosing to have in vitro fertilization and become pregnant to raise families. Some couples even have one partner donate an egg, which a medical doctor then fertilizes and places within the other partner (see Surrogacy). Many lesbians now prefer this method because they feel it to be more intimate when one partner gives birth to the other's biological child. [citation needed]

See alsoEdit

External linksEdit

Resources For Lesbian & Gay FamiliesEdit

Medical & Scientific Organisations' Statements On HomosexualityEdit

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