Wow today was a fantastic day. I went to a workshop entitled “Youth Working Together Across Borders” and I was hoping that my friends from Africa were there. I was pleasantly surprised when I got to the workshop and saw many familiar faces from Africa. It was great to run into them because I didn’t get a chance to get their e-mail addresses prior to leaving Botswana.
Later in the day I went to a workshop about delivering HIV/AIDS prevention programs in the workplace. This workshop was really fascinating because I hadn’t really thought about how the workplace is the perfect medium of deliving education workshops and treatment options. At a workshop, you have people usually of similiar demographic backgrounds such as age and education. It is easier to tailor a program to meet their needs. This workshop inspired me to start thinking about how a union can impact HIV/AIDS in the workplace and I think this could be a possible topic for my thesis. Starting in September I am pursuing a Masters in Labour Studies at McMaster University. I would love to find a topic that I’m interested in and passionate about.
The day ended with a workshop about where the pleasure is in safer sex. This workshop had a very accletic group of speakers ranging from a representative from a sex workers’ group to a talk about microbicides. What I found intriging about the sex workers topic is that an organization called St. James Infirmary in San Francisco, California, USA is providing holistic methods for sex workers to be healthy. They offer massage services, education, treatment, and conselling. They take a non-judgmental approach and accept the fact that behaviour is hard to change, so instead they answer the question of how can be make this behaviour safer? They provide safe injection sites for drug users and make using condoms sexier. What spoke the loudest to me was a statement from one member of the infirmary who said that sex work is just like any other work. You have good and bad days. Somedays you wake up and don’t want to go in.
In the microbicides lecture, I actually found out that oral drugs are not classified as microbicides and the correct definition is “any gel-like substance that substantially reduces tranmission of HIV when applied to the vagina or rectum.” They discussed the potential success of the trial studies of microbicides and the thought of marketing them as pleasure enhancing tools (more pleasurable than condoms). That is definitely a more positive message than “use this or else you will die!”