Soirée MOBILISE! March 16
Some sixty people were on hand for our very first Soirée MOBILISE! held on March 16 at Lounge L’un et L’autre in Montreal. Attendees had the chance to learn more about the project and take in a pop-up exposition of works by painter George Adrian Homa and prints by photographer Mart Ville. The main feature of the evening was a round-table interview with leaders who have taken an active role in organizing “community team” discussions as part of the MOBILISE! project.
These grassroots discussions are currently underway to gather opinions from community members about various risk reduction strategies and access to sexual health services. The leaders we heard from at the Soirée MOBILISE! shared highlights of what participants in their discussions had to say about advances in HIV prevention and more than twenty different risk reduction strategies. Here are a few excerpts:
- “The participants of my team hadn’t really heard of PrEP [medication that can be used by HIV-negative people that can prevent a person exposed to HIV from contracting an infection.]” (BENOIT, leader of a team made up of his long-time friends).
- “The idea of serosorting made the members of my team uncomfortable. Choosing your partner based on HIV-status seemed discriminatory – you can be interested in someone no matter what their status!” (PHILIPPE, leader of a team that he put together using his contacts on Grindr and Scruff).
- “We talked a lot in my team about HIV self-testing [not currently available in Canada] and this led to a lot of ideas about what the drop-in centre would be like if participants could do their own HIV testing by themselves with the community workers on hand to help out… “(JONATHAN, outreach worker for the sex workers’ programme at REZO and leader of a team made up of program participants).
- “Some people wondered about going to a testing clinic, especially one that specializes in HIV and other STIs, and if they see someone they know there, whether they would they feel a bit uncomfortable encountering this person? … This came up in our discussion, that maybe this might stop them from getting tested because there’s not enough anonymity… “(MIKE involved in Arc-En-Ciel D’Afrique and leader of a team carried out among an Afro-Caribbean population)
- “…everyone had a combination of strategies that works for them, whether strategic positioning (top – bottom) or cutting down on alcohol or drugs … it might not seem like a lot, but taken together as a combination, it’s a type of prevention … “(ELIE, leader of a team composed of members of the Club of Montreal Leather-Latex” the Phoenix “).
- “I was diagnosed in 1987 when I was 17 years old … I see myself as a survivor and this is part of my effort! Protect yourself! Stay informed, this is what the MOBILISE! project is all about… It’s important to get involved! “(GEORGE, artist and HIV prevention supporter who participated in the Soirée MOBILISE!).
We gratefully thank all of the leaders who participated in this activity as well as the twenty other leaders who have participated in the project to date. Through your efforts, the MOBILISE! team will gain a better understanding of what people think about sexual health services, how much they know about the different options for reducing the risk of HIV transmission, and their opinions on these various options.
If you missed March 16 event, rest assured that we’re already getting ready for the next Soirée MOBILISE! that will take place on Thursday 9 June at Café Cagibi, 5490 St-Laurent Blvd in the Mile End neighbourhood in Montreal. The programme for the evening will deal with access to sexual health services and promises to be lively. A number of special guests will be on hand. For updates, follow us on Facebook or sign up to our mailing list.
Photo : Dalig Photography