YouShouldKnow.ca http://youshouldknow.ca Sexual health news, science and culture for women Mon, 20 Feb 2017 22:23:11 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.4.11 website changes http://youshouldknow.ca/uncategorized/website-changes/ Mon, 20 Feb 2017 22:23:11 +0000 http://youshouldknow.ca/?p=7649 Per March 1 2017 contents of this website will be moved to the parent website www.pwn.bc.ca/you-should-know

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Per March 1 2017 contents of this website will be moved to the parent website www.pwn.bc.ca/you-should-know

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Changes http://youshouldknow.ca/you-should-know/changes/ Tue, 19 Jul 2016 23:11:19 +0000 http://youshouldknow.ca/?p=7368 Many if not all of you have heard from one source or another about changes at PWN. While this is a time of transition for the organization, PWN’s vision and goals have not changed. We are here to provide services that will improve the lives of women living with HIV, to address health inequities from […]

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Many if not all of you have heard from one source or another about changes at PWN. While this is a time of transition for the organization, PWN’s vision and goals have not changed. We are here to provide services that will improve the lives of women living with HIV, to address health inequities from a gendered lens, and to expand services for women living with hepatitis C or women who are facing increased vulnerabilities to HIV and HCV due to social determinants of health and systemic challenges.

We recognize that the HIV epidemic has changed, as well as the funding mechanisms available to us, and we must therefore adjust our service delivery to meet those changing realities. During the adjustment process difficult decisions were made and we are aware that those decisions were not just painful for us internally but also for long term members and stakeholders. We are working collaboratively with our core funders to ensure best outcomes, taking this time to address some identified gaps in PWN’s service delivery mechanisms.
We have many things to celebrate in this our 25th year:
• Daily services for women living with HIV including food bank, Tuesday hot lunch program, retreats, one on one support and peer mentorship opportunities
• Knowledge gatherings and trainings for community members, stakeholders, students, community service organizations on the health inequities and how to make a difference for women living with HIV and/or HCV, or women most vulnerable
• Culturally led programming

We have a clear vision—a society where women living with HIV and hepatitis C can lead lives of health and dignity, free of stigma, discrimination, and violence. Following a path towards that vision, we continue our work of reducing the negative impact of HIV and HCV on the lives of women and their loved ones.

Donna Tennant,
Executive Director Positive Women’s Network
Preferred Pronoun: they/them

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The Last Word http://youshouldknow.ca/you-should-know/the-last-word/ Tue, 05 Jul 2016 13:47:57 +0000 http://youshouldknow.ca/?p=7345 This is my last post for You Should Know, as I am leaving my position at Positive Women’s Network, the mother ship of this site. Given that, I will end on one of my favourite messages: words count when it comes to talking about our bodies, sexuality, and reproductive health. I’ve always been of the […]

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pens-and-pencils-3This is my last post for You Should Know, as I am leaving my position at Positive Women’s Network, the mother ship of this site. Given that, I will end on one of my favourite messages: words count when it comes to talking about our bodies, sexuality, and reproductive health.

I’ve always been of the mind that teaching kids the proper names for body parts is important. It’s a vulva, not a whoopee, or whatever cutesy name people apply. One of the Blunt Moms bloggers agrees and disagrees. In For Cooter’s Sake! There’s Nothing Wrong with Using Nicknames for Genitals, Anita Manderfeld wonders whether using the correct terminology could be alienating, when pet names are used for other parts of her daughter’s body- “We don’t refer to her butt as her gluteus maximus. In fact, much of the time, we call it her ‘tush’ or ‘heiny’.”

Manderfeld’s post starts by calling her daughter’s vulva a vagina, so that is the beginning of our disagreement.

But as with any blog post, you can’t capture the whole picture, so I’m giving her some benefit of the doubt. It sounds like she’s recognizing her own challenges in using the language (“Maybe I just put off a subtle, unconscious weird vibe when I say vagina.”)  and is committed to making sure her kids get the right terms. And she makes a good point about the word play – and potential oppression – of pet names for anatomy when we get to be adults. Why not talk about this stuff in the safety of home?

On a different language issue, Dr. Maureen Shaw talks about the limiting polarities in the pro/anti choice movement. She cites the use of wording that makes repressive health bills against women look like a good thing:

“When anti-choice lawmakers and activists wield language that is inflammatory, misleading, or demonizing, the public’s perceptions of abortion are compromised.”

Pro-life advocates are anything but. If they were, they would push for services that support parents before and after birth; challenge policies that perpetuate the poverty cycle; improve social services for children, and fight stigma against single parents, as starters. But the name pro-life helps imply that those who support reproductive health choices, including safe access to birth control and abortion, are against life. This is definitely not the case!

Using language to imply that women and their reproductive health care providers are evil (at minimum) and murderers (another favourite from the anti-choice movement) pushes their restrictive agenda. Shaw points out that in keeping up the pressure against the anti-choice forces, anti-choice is the preferable term over pro-life, because anti-choice identifies what they are really doing- limiting rights.

End rant.

*

Thanks to all the folks who have Twittered with YSK or commented on Facebook posts over the years. I loved working with you!

 

Janet   |   @janet_madsen

 

Image: Jessica Gale, MorgueFile

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Stonewall Stance and Movement http://youshouldknow.ca/you-should-know/stonewall-stance-movement/ Tue, 28 Jun 2016 17:36:20 +0000 http://youshouldknow.ca/?p=7334 Today is the anniversary of the Stonewall Inn riots in 1969, which are seen as the beginning of the LGBT social justice movement. When police raided a gay bar on a  summer night in New York City, they didn’t expect push back from the clientele, but enough was enough. “Stonewall became this symbol of feeling […]

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stonewallToday is the anniversary of the Stonewall Inn riots in 1969, which are seen as the beginning of the LGBT social justice movement. When police raided a gay bar on a  summer night in New York City, they didn’t expect push back from the clientele, but enough was enough.

Stonewall became this symbol of feeling empowered” said Philip Bockman, reflecting on the time. The Stonewall Inn has been officially named a national monument to commemorate history so that it may be taught to future generations.  While then Justice Minister Pierre Trudeau decriminalized homosexuality in Canada  before Stonewall, it was the turning point of Stonewall that galvanized activism widely.  later.

LGBT rights in the US and Canada have come a long way since Stonewall. On the issue of same sex marriage alone (and I recognize there are many issues that need addressing), it is now legal in many countries. Canada legalized it in 2005, but Conservatives took ten years to accept it in party policy; the US just marked their year anniversary of the US Supreme Court ruling making it accessible if people choose it. Not surprisingly, the world hasn’t fallen apart as predicted, although people like Kim Davis, the American county clerk who refused to issue marriage licenses, have continued their personal stands.

While I take heart in hearing that anti-gay groups like the National Organization for Marriage can barely stage a march as so few are up in arms about same sex marriage, it’s sadly easy to find discrimination and violence against LGBT people elsewhere.  As the recent targeted murders in Orlando teach us, there is still a lot of work we need to do in addressing the fear and discomfort people have with LGBT people. Some of the work will take sexuality education, some of it will take challenging the religious, social and legal structures that support discrimination, rejection, and violence.

For the sake of each other and youth, the adult leaders in our futures, we need to continue to make the world as equitable as possible for LGBT people. Today we celebrate Stonewall; tomorrow it’s back to work.

 

Janet  |  @janet_madsen

 

Image: Flickr, Creative Commons

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Make National HIV Testing Day Yours http://youshouldknow.ca/you-should-know/make-national-hiv-testing-day/ Wed, 22 Jun 2016 09:21:23 +0000 http://youshouldknow.ca/?p=7324 June 27 is National HIV testing Day (NHTD) in the US  so health organizations are gearing up with positive messaging about knowing your status. Although it’s not official in Canada, a study of NHTD in the US shows it does help get people in the clinic door that might not go otherwise. People in the […]

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flickrJune 27 is National HIV testing Day (NHTD) in the US  so health organizations are gearing up with positive messaging about knowing your status.

Although it’s not official in Canada, a study of NHTD in the US shows it does help get people in the clinic door that might not go otherwise. People in the 50+ age range in particular were more likely to get tested as a result of public health messages leading up to National HIV Testing Day.

Once you’ve had an initial test, repeat testing is recommended once every five years for those between 18 and 70. Repeat testing sooner is advisable if:

  • You are diagnosed with any sexually transmitted infection (STI), as HIV is also sexually transmitted.  Here’s a refresher on how HIV is transmitted from person to person and how to avoid it.
  • If you have a sex partner who has HIV, uses injection drugs, or whose HIV status is unknown, it is also recommended you get tested.
  • You are pregnant.  Taking HIV treatment during pregnancy means babies are rarely born with it.
  • You present with symptoms of HIV.
  • You test positive for hepatitis B or C, or tuberculosis.

Testing is simple and fast – this Clinic Finder can help you sort out where to go. Positive Women’s Network (You Should Know’s parent organization) can give you support if you have any questions during the testing process.

HIV is a lifelong condition, but current treatment means you can live long and well.  Why not make June 27 your testing day too?

 

Janet  |   @janet_madsen

 

Image: Flickr, Creative Commons

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Orlando Echoes http://youshouldknow.ca/you-should-know/orlando-echoes/ Thu, 16 Jun 2016 13:27:17 +0000 http://youshouldknow.ca/?p=7316 I’m still thinking a lot about the murders in Orlando. Like this gay teen, I acknowledge this isn’t my story; I don’t know anyone there who was killed. Yet as a lesbian who has taken her share of comfort in queer spaces like bars and dances, I understand that the idea of a safe space is gone. […]

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stainedglass_morguefile.jpgI’m still thinking a lot about the murders in Orlando. Like this gay teen, I acknowledge this isn’t my story; I don’t know anyone there who was killed. Yet as a lesbian who has taken her share of comfort in queer spaces like bars and dances, I understand that the idea of a safe space is gone.  (I like that this piece notes that this is the worst massacre by a single gunman, but not the worst ever.  Saying it’s the worst ever ignores history like the massacre at Wounded Knee. )

Reaction continues to roll in; analysis of layer by layer of the perpetrator’s life and choices. Some posts are about mourning, some are about rage. Here are a few pieces that have resonated with me of the hundreds over the past couple of days.

This shooting is not a surprise given the hatred that is through and through people’s words and actions on a daily basis. Religious leaders actively supporting discrimination and violence against LGBTQ people are fueling these fires. “So many politicians, teachers, parents, churches, and twitter trolls have preached hate for long enough that of course this happened,” says Jeffery Self, who urges, “DO SOMETHING.”

Milo Todd writes, “This isn’t a one-time thing. Pulse should most definitely be getting the greatest of attention at this moment in time. But that’s not to say that, once the news has died down, you think, ‘Man, sure glad that’s over.’ Because it’s not over. It’s never over. We deal with this kind of fear and hate on a daily basis.”

America’s political parties and representatives need to face up their own work: “If one more Republican tells me they have gay friends, I’m gonna scream,” Democratic Representative Sean Patrick Maloney is quoted.  “I don’t care that they have gay friends. I care that they’re voting against equality.”

#LoveWins, the simple and powerful words being used to fight grief and rage and horror, have emphasized the need to keep fighting homophobia and stigma. In Russia, a couple was arrested for attempting to leave a Love Wins poster at the American Embassy.

The push against homophobia and denying human rights has to stop. Orlando reminds us; our hearts guide us.

 

Janet   |  @janet_madsen

 

Image:  MorgueFile

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Two Bikes http://youshouldknow.ca/you-should-know/two-bikes/ Tue, 07 Jun 2016 20:16:39 +0000 http://youshouldknow.ca/?p=7293 My fifteen year old daughter helped contribute to this blog, which makes me grateful and sad. The topic is the one on many people’s minds – Brock Turner, the Stanford University student who sexually assaulted an unconscious woman, tried to run away when caught at it, then tried to paint the assault as consensual. He […]

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John Loo_FlickrMy fifteen year old daughter helped contribute to this blog, which makes me grateful and sad. The topic is the one on many people’s minds – Brock Turner, the Stanford University student who sexually assaulted an unconscious woman, tried to run away when caught at it, then tried to paint the assault as consensual. He was convicted of three felonies, which could have put him in jail for 14 years. Instead he got a six month sentence because, to boil down what seems to be the judge’s take on it, he’s a young guy who’s a good kid despite it all, and jail might be too tough for him. Some in the media have taken the same approach.

And yet he’s a convicted felon.

This morning my girl and I talked a lot about the case, the legal defense of the rapist, the courage of the woman who was assaulted, and how people across the world are responding. “Did you see this one?” we would ask each other. Oh how grateful I am that we had a complicated conversation about rape culture, white privilege, male privilege, consent, sexism and denial.

It was rewarding to have this complex discussion with my girl, who is wise in her analysis. It was sad because this case is just one of way too many. We can talk about these issues until we’re blue in the face and that still won’t fully protect my daughter, my niece, anyone, should a man determine they are going to have sex with her without consent.  My girl and I agreed we need to talk about this stuff; she wants to talk with her friends to raise awareness about the issues and change rape culture.

So let’s turn to the good stuff my girl and I shared.

The vitally important comment on this case is from the victim herself. Her impact statement is going viral, and hooray for that. Her words are insightful, authentic, chilling and yet hopeful. If you read no further here, please read her words.

Turn to the disgusted response to the letter of Turner’s father. In a plea for leniency, said father noted that his son shouldn’t see jail time for “20 minutes of action,” a phrase that has lit up the web.  Alexandra Ozeri’s writing “fixed” the letter  to say what the son’s actions really were, rather than the picture the dad tries to paint. Jon Pavlovitz wrote Turner Senior father-to-father, giving him persepective on being a decent parent. Turn to the response to another one of Brock Turner’s supporters, who suggests he couldn’t be a rapist, illustrating many stereotypes about rape culture.

About a minute after I found it, my daughter called from the other room, “Mom did you see the Facebook post from Matt Lang? Use that!” (He’s given permission to share). Just in case Matt removes his post at some point, here’s the gist-

“I’ve been drunk many times, even in the presence of promiscuous women who were also drunk, and I managed not to rape them, so I don’t think drinking and promiscuity are the problems. This here is the problem: some guys are entitled p***** … because their fathers and coaches and friends taught them to be.  Brock Turner and his ilk… were taught that they can have what they want, when they want, including women. And that’s called being a man.”

Reflecting on the victim’s powerful impact statement, Jessica Valenti writes, “Her statement is a damning indictment of a culture that bends over backwards to humanize rapists while demonizing their victims.”

Yes. Painfully, yes.

But there is hope; the victim herself talks about it. She concludes her victim impact statement by acknowledging the strangers that saved her and continue to do so, as she progresses with gaining strength and perspective.

“Thank you to girls across the nation that wrote cards to my DA to give to me, so many strangers who cared for me. Most importantly, thank you to the two men who saved me, who I have yet to meet. I sleep with two bicycles that I drew taped above my bed to remind myself there are heroes in this story. That we are looking out for one another. To have known all of these people, to have felt their protection and love, is something I will never forget.”

 

Janet   |   @janet_madsen

Image: John Loo, Flickr (Creative Commons)

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Menstrual Hygiene Always Matters http://youshouldknow.ca/you-should-know/menstrual-hygiene-always-matters/ Tue, 31 May 2016 08:55:19 +0000 http://youshouldknow.ca/?p=7283 May’s been a big month for health education, including hepatitis awareness,  mental health week,  and the International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia.  On the weekend was another big day, Menstrual Hygiene Day. Menstrual Hygiene Day is every May 28- scheduled on the fifth month for the average length of a period and 28 days […]

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May’s been a big month for health education, including hepatitis awareness,  mental health week,  and the International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia.  On the weekend was another big day, Menstrual Hygiene Day.

Menstrual Hygiene Day is every May 28- scheduled on the fifth month for the average length of a period and 28 days for the average menstrual cycle.  It’s a campaign to bring attention to how menstruation shapes peoples’ lives. Menstruation is still a stigmatized topic, although it is inching its way into more everyday conversations in North American pop culture.  Given that sex education still warrants references to genitalia as “private parts” rather than their accurate names,  it’s not surprising menstruation is still a huge taboo topic. For those who have the money and circumstances to move through the month without too much bother, consider the life factors faced by others who menstruate.

For lack of clean water, supplies and safe, private bathrooms during menstruation, some folks will have to miss school or work on a regular basis. More than one billion women do not have access to toilets during their periods.  Trans people who menstruate can have challenges accessing facilities that are safe and comfortable. Menstrual hygiene is a huge issue if we are to achieve the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals in health, education, gender equality, economic growth, water and sanitation.

To open up the conversation about menstruation for all people, the Red Cross is adding it to its health education so that students will learn about this normal process.  Youth in India are encouraging each other to use artwork to educate and eliminate stigma; collages, cartoons and paintings shout “Be Period positive!”  This underwear company is doing its best to blast menstrual and trans stigma with one campaign.

What’s your comfort level in talking about menstruation? Is it shamefully “The Curse” you were told about, or do you feel easy about discussing it? It’s a big issue for  many. As one of the youth posters said, “If you are ashamed of your period, your daughter wil be too.”  Le’ts break that. #MenstruationMatters  on Menstrual Hygiene Day and every day of the year.

 

Janet   |  @janet_madsen

Image: youthkiawaaz.com

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Hepatitis Awareness http://youshouldknow.ca/you-should-know/hepatitis-awareness/ Wed, 25 May 2016 17:49:27 +0000 http://youshouldknow.ca/?p=7269 May is Hepatitis Awareness Month, a health education push to make people more aware of risk, prevention, and treatment for hepatitis. Hepatitis is a disease of the liver that can affect people of all ages. Liver disease can lead to liver cirrhosis (scarring) and liver cancer. There are three major kind of hepatitis:  A, B, and […]

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imelenchon-DSC_7828_MorgueFileMay is Hepatitis Awareness Month, a health education push to make people more aware of risk, prevention, and treatment for hepatitis. Hepatitis is a disease of the liver that can affect people of all ages. Liver disease can lead to liver cirrhosis (scarring) and liver cancer.

There are three major kind of hepatitis:  A, B, and C; this post will focus on hepatitis B and C.

Both hepatitis B and C can be spread through sharing equipment for injecting drugs, hormones or steroids. These are high risk transmission activities, as hepatitis could be injected directly into the bloodstream. Although this isn’t a risk factor for many people, consider the following two possibilities that are.

Hepatitis can be transmitted through sexual transmission when one partner has hepatitis, and blood is present. Hepatitis B is also in vaginal fluid and semen. Blood to blood contact can include abrasive sex (most obviously, sexual assault), but also sex where you might not even realize your tissues have torn. As women age, vaginal tissue becomes thinner and less resilient, making microscopic tears more likely. Tears can also happen if a woman isn’t fully lubricated. It’s important (not to mention more comfortable) to use lube and condoms to prevent sexually transmitted infections (STI).

Hepatitis can also be transmitted through sharing personal care items like toothbrushes or razors that might have traces of blood on them. Never share with someone who has hepatitis or someone whose hepatitis status is unknown.

Hepatitis B may not produce symptoms if you get infected, so it can damage your health without you even being aware it’s an issue. Most people who get hepatitis B will clear the virus on their own, although a small percentage (5%) end up with chronic infection, for which treatment is available. Vaccination and safe sex are good ways to protect yourself.

Hepatitis C is more troublesome of the two. It’s recommended that all baby boomers who don’t know their hepatitis C status get tested, so if your birth year falls in the 1946-1964 window, talk to your doctor. Why boomers? They grew up in a time when we didn’t know about hepatitis C and how it was transmitted. Medical practice at the time was to reuse glass syringes and metal needles, and despite best efforts to sanitize, they contained hep C particles that put people at risk of getting the virus.

Like hepatitis B, some people will clear hepatitis C on their own, but only about 20-25% will do so. Hepatitis C doesn’t always produce symptoms, although there are some signs, like deep body aches, unusual joint pain, fatigue, and night sweats. These symptoms can be signs of other illnesses too, so it’s best to see your doctor for assessment. Hepatitis C can be treated and cured for many people but you can get re-infected, so it’s essential that you know how to prevent transmission. If you inject anything, dont’ share equipment, and have safe sex.

A simple blood test can tell if you have hepatitis. Get tested- knowing your health status can help you make informed decisions that lead to positive outcomes.

 

Janet  |  @janet_madsen

 

 

Image: Imelenchon, MorgueFile

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International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia http://youshouldknow.ca/you-should-know/idahot2016/ Tue, 17 May 2016 17:53:43 +0000 http://youshouldknow.ca/?p=7261 Today is the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia, or #IDAHOT2016 if you are sailing the streams of Twitter. This year the feature page talks about mental health and wellbeing. It lists campaigns and events taking place around the world to challenge society’s stigma against LGBTQ people. The focus on wellbeing is an important […]

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rainbow-flag-morguefileToday is the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia, or #IDAHOT2016 if you are sailing the streams of Twitter. This year the feature page talks about mental health and wellbeing. It lists campaigns and events taking place around the world to challenge society’s stigma against LGBTQ people.

The focus on wellbeing is an important one., as casting LGBTQ people as sick or damaged impacts our lives considerably. Stigma and fear influence politics and public policy and are also used to defend violence. Wellbeing is an overarching term that includes mental and physical health, safety and security, economic security, legal rights and protections.

Consider any of these issues which are only a few of the life-challenging ones LGBTQ people face daily:

Bullying and discrimination have long lasting effects. LGBTQ youth are four times more likely to attempt suicide than their heterosexual peers.

The rate of homelessness for LGBTQ youth is high. Among homeless youth, about 25-40 percent are LGBTQ. This is frequently a result of home environments that reject youth for being LGBTQ.

Family rejection can more than triple consideration of suicide for transgender people.

The murders of trans people are in the news on an ongoing basis. The Advocate has a list of Americans killed so far this year;  a sad comment on the rise in violence against trans women in particular- this analysis of the rise is a tough read.

Same sex marriage is becoming legal in more places around the world,  yet even so opposition to its legality is staunchly defended (and celebrated by certain religious groups.). Think of American Kim Davis defied the US Supreme Court’s legalization of same sex marriage and went to jail for refusing to issue marriage licenses as it was against her beliefs (but part of her job).

Internalized stigma for being gay, trans, bisexual, or gender non-conforming can influence sexual behaviour and HIV/ STI risk “Oppression not only perpetuates the HIV epidemic but also compromises the overall wellness of gay and bisexual men.”

For these and many more reasons, it’s a good day to fight to improve all all of these social determinants of health.

 

Janet | @janet_madsen

 

Image: MorgueFile

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