Volunteer work in Helsinki and Oslo:”Sex should be fun and safe!”

Norwegian flag and text Volunteer in Oslo and Health Buddy in Helsinki

The writer of this blog post is Hivpoint´s Health Buddy 2022. The Health Buddies are Hivpoint´s advocates who spread knowledge about sexual health, including HIV and sexually transmitted infections, in migrant and refugee communities.

“I started to work as a volunteer for HIV and STI prevention in a NGO called Helseutvalget in Oslo, Norway. My motivation was that I wanted to give something back to the community and try to make a small difference in people’s lives.

When I started as a volunteer in Helseutvalget I had no expectations or not much experience with work among HIV or STIs. We got really good training both in the basics of STIs and practice to make the actual test. Furthermore we learned to talk about sexual health and risky sexual behavour with our clients.

I can admit I was quite nervous the first times I was volunteering. I was not quite confident with the testing equipment and I was also a little nervous about how to talk to the clients in the right manner. But I had excellent coaching from the supervisors who worked for Helseutvalget, and they coached us volunteers and gave helpful tips on how to handle certain situations and different kinds of clients.

I was most surprised about the diversity both in age and background. I had the prejudice  that it would be almost only clients in the mid 30’s and younger that would come and get tested but it was clients from  all walks of life and backgrounds.

We had people who came for the first time and were very nervous and just as well people who had come to us for multiple times. It was quite interesting to handle that as a volunteer worker and to adapt how to present the information to the clients individually. While the client was waiting for the test results, we talked about sexual health and how to have sex in a safer way. We informed the clients also of the option to get prep.

So my experience as a volunteer with Helseutvalget was very good. I feel I did make  a difference and I think our message that sex should be fun and safe, got through to most of the clients.

It is natural continuation to become a Health buddy with Hivpoint regarding my previous work with Helseutvalget in Oslo. The two experiences complete each other, and I hope it will help me when I am working as a Health buddy in Hivpoint!”

Hivpoint´s Health Buddy 2022