2nd Soirée MOBILISE! rocks the boat
The issue of access to sexual health services for the men who make up our diverse communities was the focus at the 2nd soirée MOBILISE! that took place on June 9 at Cagibi, a café and performance space in Mile End.
Using the same format as the first soirée MOBILISE!, community team leaders shared their points of view, with time reserved at the end for discussion with the 60 people in attendance. Here are some of the themes and issues that came up during their testimonials:
- Access to information: young people have had little access to information about sexuality and HIV / STI prevention in schools. Other examples included language difficulties and health professionals who are unfamiliar with new prevention strategies.
- Reluctance to speak openly about sexuality as well as judgmental attitudes on the part of clinicians, pharmacists or even among friends can prevent people from taking care of their sexual health.
- Figuring out what to do if you’re don’t know which clinic to go to or you don’t have a health insurance card.
- Accessibility of the health system: most sexual health services are only open during regular working hours, meaning that a majority of people have to miss work (and sometimes lose pay) if they want to access the service
- Reluctance to go to community organizations out of fear of being seen as someone who has taken or assumptions about who uses these organizations, despite the fact that a diverse range of people use community organizations.
- Under funding of organizations, limiting their ability to promote and offer services.
- Barriers in access to PrEP (pre-exposure prophylaxis, anti-HIV drugs taken by an HIV-negative person to avoid infection) such as stigma, access to a doctor, or payment of fees.
Rocking the boat
What to do with this information? The idea is not to write up a list of problems or publish a report. Instead, our aim is to “rock the boat” by demanding services that are more accessible and acceptable. If MOBILISE! succeeds, it will be because community members speak out with the help our allies to ensure that policymakers act in our interests.
Text: Ken Monteith
Photo: Marc-Olivier Pépin