By Sarah Flicker and the Native Youth Sexual Health Network
Taking Action II is a community-based action research project about building and supporting Indigenous youth leadership in the HIV/AIDS movement. We are a group of Indigenous youth leaders, Indigenous community-based organizations and university-based researchers. We wanted to create awareness around HIV, sexual health, and decolonization in First Nations, Métis, and Inuit communities across Turtle Island (also known as Canada).
In Taking Action I, we worked with over 100 youth in six Indigenous communities across Canada to make art about the links between HIV and colonization. We did this as a way of broadening the conversations about HIV – to move away from the individual shame-and-blame discourse. We wanted to help communities understand and respond back to all the structural factors that have conspired to make them vulnerable to HIV: racism, poverty, land theft, residential schools, loss of language/culture, epidemics of addiction, the Sixties Scoop (the practice of taking Indigenous children and placing them in foster homes beginning in the 1960s) and ongoing child welfare involvement, incarceration, etc. Youth created a lot of amazing art that took up these themes. They loved our workshops and asked for more opportunities to get together with youth from other communities.
A global study released last year revealed alarming figures concerning women living with HIV and violence. Among 945 women living with HIV from 94 countries who participated in the study, 89 per cent reported having experienced or feared violence before, since and/or because of their HIV diagnosis. Violence they experienced was reported to be higher after HIV diagnosis from their intimate partner and others in their social network. The troubling nexus between HIV and gender-based violence spurred the Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network, HIV & AIDS Legal Clinic Ontario and METRAC to produce a legal information guide for women living with HIV who are facing — or at risk of — “intimate partner violence” — that is, physical, sexual or psychological harm from a current or former partner or spouse.
In addition to being an exceedingly common experience among women living with HIV, intimate partner violence and HIV are both stigmatized, isolating people who are affected. Intimate partner violence also increases women’s vulnerability to HIV. Women who have violent partners are more likely to have forced sex, are less likely to negotiate condom use, and are more likely to be abused when they insist on condom use— which poses greater risks of HIV transmission.
Depuis ses débuts, CATIE offre de l’information aux personnes vivant avec le VIH afin qu’elles prennent mieux soin de leur santé. À l’automne 2015, nous avons réalisé un sondage national en ligne pour mieux comprendre les besoins d’information des personnes vivant avec le VIH aujourd’hui. Les résultats du sondage confirment peut-être ce que vous savez déjà au sujet des besoins d’information de vos clients. Ils contiennent aussi peut-être quelques surprises. Quoi qu’il en soit, les résultats nous guident pour mieux servir nos clients.
Did you know that men can get HPV cancers? HPV (the human papillomavirus) causes warts, pre-cancers and cancers. HPV is most famous for causing cervical cancer so it has mainly been linked in people’s minds to cancer in women. Because of that, HPV cancer prevention programs have only focused on women (for example, governments spend many millions on cervical cancer screening and immunizing girls against HPV). However, HPV is readily passed between partners and the other half of the world (men!) get HPV as much as women do. So let us get the facts straight about HPV in men and women and what to do about it.