InSight: Expanding Access to Care for Youths
By Benjamin Brooks
There is potentially some more good news on the horizon for the District’s LGBTQ+ youth! The DC Council is considering a bill that gives youths 16-years and older access to and control over their health care appointments, medical records, and insurance communications. This new bill, Bill 24-0231, the Minor Access to Medical Records and Appointments Amendment Act of 2021; introduced by At-Large Councilmember Christina Henderson and Councilmembers Brianne K. Nadeau, Janeese Lewis George, Charles Allen, Brooke Pinto, Mary M. Cheh, and Robert C. White, Jr; would help minors access life-changing medical care. This is likely to help transgender, lesbian, gay, bisexual, queer, or questioning minors when they are unable to get parental consent.
There are many reasons for minors of any age to need to take control over their health, and sexual health is a big one! Many people have experienced growing up and engaging in environments where it is uncomfortable to talk about sexual health, and for many parents, it can be uncomfortable to recognize that their children may be having sex. This bill helps make sure that this discomfort does not have to get in the way of accessing needed medical care.
Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) are still highly stigmatized, but access to STI treatment and prevention information is essential for young people, who are the population most at risk for acquiring and transmitting STIs. In particular, because minors are most at risk for acquiring HIV, HIV prevention and treatment for this population is key if we are going to meet our goals of ending the HIV epidemic.