Bedsider.org has a pretty funny PSA reminding you that you didn’t give up on sex, so don’t give up on birth control either:
Today is World AIDS Day and I’ve been collecting some of the videos coming out for y’all. But first, here are some things can be done to try to “get to zero” new cases of HIV/AIDS and improve support for people living with HIV/AIDS:
- Take care of yourself and your partners. Get tested for HIV.
- Take control and negotiate safe sex.
- Take steps to educate yourself on HIV/AIDS. To start, the Canadian AIDS Society has some good resources.
- Take a minute to learn about the problems with Canada’s Access to Medicines Regimes (CAMR) and urge your federal politicians to act now to make the reforms necessary to ensure people with HIV/AIDS in foreign countries can access life-saving medicine.
We also need to remember that sexism, homophobia, racism, and colonialism are all factors in AIDS transmission. The vast majority of new AIDS cases worldwide are among young women, demonstrating the link between gender inequality and the risk of infection, heightened by gender violence, pressure on young women to have unprotected sex, and inadequate sex education.
As to homophobia, in many countries sex between men is even more stigmatized than in North America, and is sometimes even criminalized. Having to hide same-sex relationships means MSMs are often unable to negotiate safe sex or seek testing or treatment for HIV/AIDS.
Finally, in Canada black people and First Nations people are dramatically overrepresented. Aboriginal people made up 11% of new infections in 2009, despite comprising only 3.8% of the country’s population. According to Ken Clement, CEO of the Canadian Aboriginal AIDS Network: “However, discrimination, ignorance and stigma cause serious road blocks – in our communities and in places where our people receive health care – and challenge our ability to meet these basic rights, which threatens the very integrity of Aboriginal families.”
Any long-term strategy to “get to zero” will need to account for the ways in which social stratification and inequality influences HIV transmission.
So now onto some videos from this year’s World AIDS Day:
Wendy Williams and the National Minority AIDS Council say “HIV Ends With Us”
In his World AIDS Day address, President Obama vows: “We will win this fight.”
Brent & Eliot get tested for HIV in this episode of the web series “It Gets Betterish”. Contains NSFW language.
And finally, though obviously not from this year, enjoy Blanche setting Rose straight on the fact that “AIDS is not a bad person’s disease.”
The Global Forum on Men Who Have Sex With Men & HIV (MSMGF) has released the results of a new global survey on HIV prevention strategies, which revealed that less than half of the world’s men who have sex with men (MSMs) have access to HIV prevention education.
The results aren’t terribly surprising but give a strong research backing to the anecdotal evidence about inadequate sex education and the wide variety of sex education information/programs people have access to, as we saw here in our open thread post on sex ed.
Canada might provide more school-based sex ed on the whole than the United States, but there are still strong variations based on provincial regulation and whether classes are provided by teachers or nurses. I had a pretty good experience with public school sex ed here in BC, but I have friends who got very little information. But of all the provinces, Alberta might be the worst, allowing parents to take their kids out of sex ed entirely if they object to the lessons.
Doctors Wells and Doherty from the U of A Faculty of Education outlined their concerns with Alberta’s sex ed system in the Edmonton Sun: ““This becomes a public health imperative,” Wells explained. “What kind of harm are we doing to our children by not providing them with this information?”
Indeed, Xtra.ca points out:
Macleans is reporting on a cluster of syphilis cases in Alberta, including tragic cases of congenital syphilis that have left nine infants dead and adult cases of untreated syphilis leading to neurological and heart disorders. Unfortunately, the article’s author has buried the lede under a whistful account of 19th-century dramatist Henrik Ibsen’s syphilis play Ghosts.
Way down in the article’s second-last paragraph, the author gets to the point:
“Others wonder if conservative mores have been part of the drama. “Our sex ed is a patchwork, with little strong guidance from the top,” warns Pam Krause of Calgary’s Sexual Health Centre. “People are okay to deal with certain things, but we’re still suffering from a lack of normalization of the harder topics.” Even medical education in Alberta, she suggests, has allowed Victorian morality to interfere with the struggle for teaching resources.”
Lest we forget, in 2009, Alberta passed Bill 44 forcing teachers to notify parents in advance about any classroom discussions of sex or religion, giving parents the right to opt their children out.
Instead of making sure kids in schools have comprehensive sex education, Alberta’s idea of making young people aware of STIs apparently involves unclear satirical ad campaigns like “Plenty of Syph”.
Reading the 24 Hours I came across this story: “Canadian Ignorant about HIV: Survey”, which discussed the results of a recent natural study that revealed only 50% of Canadians believe condoms to be effective against HIV transmission, when they’ve been shown to be 80% effective in stopping HIV transmission between heterosexuals.
I was surprised at the number too so I thought it was a good opportunity to have an open thread on sex ed.
I had my first sex ed class in Grade 6, for which my school brought in a local public health nurse. She also did sessions for classes in grades 8 and 9 at my Junior High. She addressed a range of issues, including same-sex sex, the use of dental dams for oral sex, and the normalcy of masturbation. In Grade 7 sex ed was part of our science curriculum and was taught by our teacher, who treated heterosexual sex as normal. In High School sex ed went from being part of gym class (a couple very awkward sessions where the gym teachers would put us in a room and show us videos like “Captain Condom” and one about a boy concerned about his penis size), to being part of Career and Personal Planning. I found the sessions run by the public health nurse much more honest, open, and useful than the ones teachers were forced into teaching.
So what was your experience? Some questions to start things off:
1. Where did you get most of your sex ed? (School, parents, friends, on your own on the internet?)
2. If you had sex ed in school, what was it like? Who taught it? Anything particularly memorable?
3. Were there particular topics that weren’t covered?
It could’ve been the premise to an episode of Law and Order: Special Victims Unit. On May 10, parents of students at Lord Tweedsmuir Secondary in Surrey received a letter from the school principal, warning them about a Facebook contest designed by grade 11 and 12 boys to see who could sleep with the most grade 8 girls. The boys called it the Little Girl Slayers Club: a contest that sees sex with younger girls as a way of adding a notch to a boy’s belt.
While it’s unclear how many students were involved or what activities actually took place, the underlying view of young girls as objects to be used and tossed aside is unsettling enough on its own.
Fortunately, the school took the right steps to address this particular situation. They brought in the RCMP to talk to the boys about the illegality of sleeping with someone under the age of 14. Perhaps more importantly, they brought in the organization SafeTeen to hold meetings and workshops with the grade 8 girls. SafeTeen founder Anita Roberts says her group “teach[es] them to listen to their intuition and to wake up to the moment…Not to be in denial or to ignore it, but to face it, and to speak their truth.” Roberts told the Toronto Sun that the girls she interviewed were more angry than scared, a good sign given that “anger is the emotion that tells them they have been violated.”
So the immediate problem has been responded to, but this incident should be a wakeup call for the Ministry of Education and schools across BC to take a hard look at our sex ed programs. Are kids getting comprehensive, consistent sex education at an early age that not only informs about the risks, but also empowers students to make positive decisions about sex and relationships?
Currently, sex education in BC is inconsistent, according to a 2004 report by Options for Sexual Health. Using Health Canada’s guidelines for sexual health education, Options brought together youth, public health practitioners, educators, and representatives from government and non-profits to discuss the state of sex ed in BC.
Differences in training for educators, a lack of discussion of sexual orientation, and the tendency for sex ed to be taught in one-shot sessions with no opportunity for follow-up are also issues that were brought up and still need to be addressed. One of the key themes that emerged was concern about the narrow scope of the classes: “All voices expressed concern that the focus of sexual health education is too narrow, too risk-dominated, and lacking in emphasis on relationship and decision-making skills.”
Education after a problem has occurred, as in the situation in Surrey, is definitely a positive step. But if we want to prevent future Little Girl Slayers Clubs, schools need to do sex education starting younger and in a way that tells students of all genders that girls are not notches to be added to your belt.