Conference by HIV/AIDS Inclusivity and Change Unit reflection

Today the day could have started better, had I not panicked about starting my literature review process so late. Yet I managed to finish it before lunch time.
I then attended a conference on the response of universities – and centers of higher learning in general – the needs of LGBT students. The event was hosted by HAICU (the full name is on the title – this is public health, we use acronyms)

I was delighted to attend. I want to just point out a few things. At UCT, there are three student led organizations representing queer students. There is Rainbow UCT, of which I am part of as the liaison for post-grad students, the UCT Queer revolution and the Trans collective. The former is rather general, while the latter two arose to fulfill particular needs that required new bodies, it seems. The next item to point out is how I met someone from Triangle – one of the two well known NGOs that work for the LGBT community here. When I say “met someone” of course I mean in the professional sense. Matthew Clayton is in-charge of research at Triangle and he may soon help me acquire the report “Sex Survey 2000” done on men who have sex with men in this city over 15 years ago. He is not aware of this report, but after speaking with him and letting him know I had sent emails to the organizations to no avail, I think he is willing to help me find it.
He presented at lunch time on intimate partner violence among women who have sex with women. That is correct, the little studied problem of wife or partner beating in lesbian relationships is receiving attention. He spoke using terms such as “heteronormative scripts” which dictate that one woman in a relationship be assertive and manly while the other submissive and motherly. The consequences of this dichotomy of roles- either one or the other – is often the same violence seen in straight couples.

Pity he did not have time to elaborate on the HIV risk study done in this same group, WSW, another little studied area. Till I began my project I believed MSM received little attention in terms of HIV epidemiology and public health research in general. That may be true relative to research on HIV among the bigger heterosexual population, but there is really no way one can say there is a dearth of research. Were there to few studies, the massive triangulation of data on MSM and HIV in SA that UCSF and the Department of Health put out would be impossible.

In any case, I am so glad I attended the conference. I also want to say the personal account of surviving bullying, becoming a bully and then asking your victims for forgiveness in order to start an anti-bullying campaign for schools in South by Pam Dlamini took my breath away. Amazing.

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About writinghealth

Wannabe Epidemiologist? Wannabe med anthro person? I guess. Christian, scientist (not Christian scientist), i mean like I studied molecular biology. I am doing a Masters of Public Health, at the University of Cape Town.
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