Dr. Frank Spinelli never saw any books that directly focused on current, wide-ranging health issues affecting gay men, so he wrote one.
The result is The Advocate Guide to Gay Men's Health and Wellness ( Alyson Books; $18.99 ) , a first-of-its-kind resource for life-enhancing holistic medicine. Informational and inspirational, the book provides an in-depth, easy-to-read look at the issues that affect the emotional, mental, spiritual and physical well-being of gay men.
Frank Spinelli, M.D., Photo by Aaron Cobbet
Spinelli, 40, is a board-certified internist with a solo practice in New York City. His focus is on primary care and HIV medicine. He has served as clinical director of HIV Services at Cabrini Medical Center for two years.
'I'm very happy with the final product,' said Spinelli, who has written for numerous publications, such as, The Blade, HX, Genre Magazine and Instinct Magazine. 'I think my biggest message is that I want you to be very honest with your doctor. That means, either going to a gay doctor or a gay-friendly doctor who is very knowledgeable about the [ gay ] lifestyle, and yes, there are a lot of such doctors.'
The biggest health care concern for gay men is, of course, HIV awareness, Spinelli said—and he writes about HIV from numerous perspectives, including prevention and treatment. He also discusses hyper-tension and cardiac risk factor, plus the high potential for lung cancer among gay men, depression and suicide, especially among younger gay men. And, there is information included about anal cancer.
Spinelli stresses the importance of a good physical exam annually, one geared to a gay man.
The book itself is geared for the 40-and-over crowd, 'but there's something in it for everyone,' he said, pointing out sections about gay sex and STDs.
'Being gay has a lot to do with how you see your health, how you talk to your doctor, including what you talk to your doctor about,' Spinelli said.
Spinelli writes in a casual manner, mixing his personal experiences as a gay man with professional tales.
The book also addresses steroid and recreational drug use within the gay community—and, yes, both are a major problem, he said.
'When I moved to New York, I had never even heard of a circuit party, let alone knew what went on at them, including the amount of drugs consumed at them,' Spinelli said. 'I really see crystal meth as a major problem in the gay community. I can't even begin to imagine how much we've underestimated its use. It's probably much higher than its given statistically.
'Anabolic steroids definitely are a problem within the gay community. They definitely are having an impact in the community. Same for human growth [ hormone ] .'
The book also offers information about gay man's physical exams and tips to avoid contracting a new bacterial skin disease that has been silently plaguing the gay community since 2002. Also, Spinelli writes about eating disorders, among other topics.