Today marks the start of Pride festivities in Montréal, which will go on until August 18.
On this occasion, the CIUSSS du Centre-Sud-de-l’Île-de-Montréal’s public health department has raised the rainbow flag outside its offices to show that it stands in solidarity with LGBTQ+ communities. It is also taking this opportunity to review how the health and social services network has responded to better meet the service needs of sexual and gender minorities.
Each year, Pride celebrations highlight sexual and gender diversity and assess social and legal advances in LGBTQ communities in Québec and Canada. The progress made to date is quite spectacular, especially in the area of gay men's health. In reaction to the HIV/Aids epidemic, various forms of public action were undertaken during the ‘80s and ‘90s: support for community groups, access to screening and care, prevention campaigns, etc. Services implemented in Centre-Sud de Montréal–the epicentre of the epidemic—have often been cited as examples.
Such involvement continues today and takes into account the diverse realities of LGBTQ+ communities. Homophobia and transphobia still have major consequences on the health and well-being of members of those communities. According to the recent ENGAGE study, over the past year, close to 47% of gay men in Montréal were victims of insults in public places owing to their sexual orientation. Fear of being judged or rejected still cause too many LBGTQ+ individuals to avoid or put off seeking care. And when they do access services, even now they encounter health workers who lack understanding or have been insufficiently trained.
Initiatives put forward by CIUSSS du Centre-Sud-de-l’Île-de-Montréal aim to facilitate and improve access to services adapted to the LGBTQ+ communities.
Here are a few examples:
- Implementation of the SIDEP+ clinic in 2016, an innovative model for prevention, screening and follow-up of Sexually transmitted and blood-borne infections (STBBIs) for men who have sex with men (MSM)
- Access to services adapted to the needs of homeless transgendered individuals aged 14 to 25, at CIUSSS du Centre-Sud-de-l’Île-de-Montréal’s street youth clinic
- Public health support for initiatives by community groups working in the field of HIV, often with very vulnerable populations (MSM, injection drug users, sex workers, etc.).
- Provision of prevention and harm reduction materials
- Professional development sessions on the realities of LGBTQ+ individuals, offered by public health to primary care workers to improve the way those indivuduals are welcomed when accessing services, reduce prejudices and stigmatization.
- Facilitation of intersectoral partnerships in the area of STBBI prevention among MSM, and more broadly, through the Montréal Fast-Track City initiative, developed in partnership with the City of Montréal and Table des organismes montréalais de lutte contre le sida
- Finally, consistent with CIUSSS du Centre-Sud-de-l’Île-de-Montréal’s university mission, participation of public health in a number of research projects about LGBTQ+ communities, in terms of epidemiological and behavioural monitoring (Engage study), as well as access to health services (Mobilise! study).
“We can congratulate ourselves on these innovative, adapted and sustainable initiatives. However, we need to do more. The health and social services network must create environments that are more inclusive and welcoming, especially for lesbians, bisexual individuals and trans persons. We must increase our efforts to reach communities that are more vulnerable due to their sexual orientation, gender identity or skin colour, to help improve services for all Montrealers,” said Dr. Mylène Drouin, regional director of public health for Montréal.
Have a good summer, and happy Pride!
Sources : Direction régionale de santé publiquede Montréal, CIUSSS du Centre-Sud-de-l’Île-de-Montréal
In the media
- Baisse des nouveaux cas de VIH chez les hommes gais à Montréal, Le 15-18 Ici Radio-Canada.ca
- Les jeunes trans surreprésentés chez les itinérants de la métropole, LeDevoir