Greetings from Hivpoint’s Health Buddies!

Sexuality and sexual rights are sensitive topics and hard to discuss openly. Health Buddies as Hivpoint´s sexual health advocates have a great opportunity to share knowledge for example about safe sex, sexual rights, HIV and other STIs and Hivpoint´s services. Read more about the Health Buddy program from here!

To find out a little more about the program, we talked with two of our Health Buddies: Laura and Hayley. We asked them some questions about their work as a Health Buddy. We were particularly interested in their thoughts on facilitating their workshops and learning about HIV and sexuality in general. Here’s what they told us!

Laura and Hayley, why do you think that learning about sexuality, sexual rights and STIs is important for everyone?

Laura: “I think that learning about these topics is necessary because sexuality is part of our lives and also part of our health. Having information about how to have a safe and respectful sexual life is the key to have a pleasant sexuality and be able to share it with others.”

Hayley: “I think learning about sexuality, sexual rights and STIs is important for everyone because sex is a natural part of life. The majority of people will engage in sexual intercourse at one point or another in their life and is it important to have knowledge of sexual rights and STIs for it to be a safe, positive and enjoyable experience, I feel.”

What do you wish that people learn from your workshops?

Laura would like that people in their workshops would learn specific and useful information, as there are a lot of myths and missinformation about STIs and HIV/AIDS. Hayley told us that they hope that people walk away from their workshops with the knowledge that contracting HIV and STIs is not a death sentence and that it can happen to anyone – hopefully removing some of the stigma surrounding the topics.

Laura:”Besides, I would like to make them feel comfortable enough to talk about this and capable of finding the right information and services themselves (testing, treatment, advice).”

Hayley: I would like them to be confident in how to engage in safe, consensual sex. Mostly I hope that people enjoy my workshops, learn something and have fun in the process.”

What has been the best thing so far about your workshops?

We at Hivpoint are very curious about their workshops, as we recognize that every Health Buddy has many interesting ideas and different ways to carry them out. Because of the pandemic, an extra dose of creativity is needed during these times to find new and exciting ways to facilitate workshops in a safe and secure manner – creativity is encouraged and celebrated!

Laura:By this date I have done one workshop and the best thing for me has been to see that people were interested and willing to ask and participate. I think it is not about giving a lot of information, but some key points and then sources were people could look for more information if needed.” 

Laura also told us that Health Buddies try to make people learn about HIV and STIs in a participative and interesting way. Laura continues: “Not everybody has had access to this kind of information, so I believe that Hivpoint does a great job promoting safe sexual habits and fighting against stigma and missinformation. I decided to become a Health Buddy because I would like to help spread this information in order to improve health, equality and respect.”

Hayley:I’ve been lucky in that my first two workshops have been with my peer groups so it has been fun to spend time with people I know or am aquainted with. I feel it made the topic easier to approach. Honestly the best thing has been seeing people go from shock or surprise, to giggly, to genuinely interested when I do the condom and dental dam explanations/demonstrations.”

Thank you so much Laura and Hayley!

We are incredibly happy to have these Health Buddies on board and we are excited to see what they come up with for their next workshops!

Do you have in mind a group of people for whom you would like a Health Buddy to arrange a workshop like this?

Please contact >> Niina Laaksonen, niina.laaksonen@hivpoint.fi