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Web Access Things!

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Tuesday, 25 April 2017

Vulva Is Asymptomatic

Image description: one crochet genital of blue hues is pictured on a white background. It looks rather unassuming, to represent asymptomatic STIs.

In the context of STIs, asymptomatic means that a person can have an STI present in the body but does not show any visible symptoms, and does not experience any. STIs that can be asymptomatic include: Gonorrhea, Chlamydia, Trichomonasis, Human Papillomavirus, Herpes Simplex 1 (oral) and Herpes Simplex 1 (anal/genital), Hepatitis B+C and Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV).

When STIs do show symptoms they can be: urethral like burning during urination; cervical like vaginal discharge; anogenital lesions like herpes blisters; pelvic inflammatory disease that includes lower abdominal pain; vaginal erythema (pain, soreness, burning rawness of the vaginal canal and opening); nausea; diarrhea; and fever to name a few.

While it is important to be able to recognize STI symptoms it is also important to remember that not all STIs will show symptoms and that asymptomatic STIs can still be passed from one person to another. Furthermore, even when they do show symptoms sometimes they can be mistaken as something else, like a cold or fever. So getting tested as best suits our sexual and drug use history is one way of knowing our STI status.

If you live in Ontario, even if you are not a citizen or permanent resident, there are clinics and community health centers where you can get access to testing and treatment ina number of languages. To find a clinic near you check: http://sexualhealthontario.ca/find-a-clinic/ or call toll free: 1 (800) 688-2437

Monday, 10 April 2017

Vulva is HPV Positive

Image description: one crochet genital of yellow hues is pictured on a white background. Dark brown glass beads located at various spots represent anogenital warts. #vulvais #tulymaimouna #crochet #endstigma

I got my first genital wart last year. I felt a mild burning/itching sensation in my butt and when I looked with a mirror I noticed a small flesh coloured bump that was new to me. Since I regularly check my genitals for any signs of changes, and had seen what warts looked like on another persons genitals it was easy for me to identify.

Human Papilomavirus (HPV) is a very common STI, 70% of the sexually active population in Kanata (Canada) will have at least one HPV infection over their lifetime. There are over 200 types of HPV with different health outcomes.  "Low risk" (rarely cancer causing) type of HPV can lead to anal and/or genitals warts, while "high risk" (carcinogenic - cancer causing) HPV can cause pre-cancerous lesions and cervical or anal cancer. 

Sometimes there are none at all, however anogenital (anal/genital) warts usually they are: bumpy (like cauliflower) or flat, their colour depends on a persons skin tone

Genital skin-to-skin contact with someone who has HPV in their body, e.g barrier free anal, vagina/front and oral sex

Most cases of HPV can be cleared by the body on its own, so treatment depends on what type of HPV is present and the extent of the infection. With anogenital warts sometimes freezing the warts off with liquid nitrogen or laser therapy are options. With mild anogenital cell changes determined by an abnormal anal or cervical pap smear, a "wait and watch" approach along with follow ups to examine the cervix, vagina, external genitalia, or anus for symptoms can be taken. If pre-cancerous or cancerous lesions are present a biopsy could be necessary.

Some prevention options:
Gardasil-9 vaccine protects against 9 types of HPV, internal condoms cover a larger surface area than external condoms, have warts removed, not shaving or having sex while warts are present to avoid spreading them around the genitals. Note: to date there is no routine STI test for anogenital warts.

Please note: The vaccine is administered in two or three doses, and completing the vaccine series takes roughly 9 months. So for the vaccines to be entirely funded the series needs to be completed before you turn 27.

If you live in Ontario "the publicly funded human papiloma virus (HPV) vaccine includes men who have sex with men (MSM) who are 9- 26 years of age or younger and identify as gay, bisexual as well as other MSM - including some trans people."  *I called the AIDS and Sexual Health Info Line to clarify what "some trans people" means and was told there is no qualifying marker for which trans people can access the vaccine.

For more information check out: http://sexualhealthontario.ca/hpv-vaccine-for-eligible-men/
AIDS and Sexual Health Info Line:
Toll free: 1-800-668-2437, Local: 416-392-2437 (available in over 16 languages)
Hours: Monday - Friday 10AM-10:30PM, Saturday & Sunday 11AM- 3PM
Or try their eChat service from Monday – Friday: 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. (in English only)

Thursday, 16 March 2017

Vulva is Chlamydia Positive

Image description: one crochet genital of pink hues is pictured on a white background. Inside the canal is reddened slightly to represent the irritating itchiness of chlamydia

I was 17 when I got chlamydia for the first time. At the time, I was dating someone who one day before going down on me asked me "I don't mean to sound rude, but why does your crotch smell like this?" After pointing this out I simply thought that change in my discharge and odor, plus the slight itchiness and redness were symptoms of a coming yeast infection. Much later the person I was seeing got tested during a physical and let me know they had chlamydia. We had had sex without condoms a few times and never talked about getting tested together.

Chlamydia is a super common bacterial STI that can transmitted through oral and penetrative sex (butt and front (vagina) sex) without a barrier, and child birth. 

Symptoms: lots of STI's share similar symptoms that make it difficult to figure out what is happening. It is also quite common to show no symptoms at all, so getting tested is the best way to know. Some symptoms are: burning while peeing, spotting between cycles, pain in lower abdomen, pain during or after penetrative sex, a change or increase in discharge. 

Treatment: oral antibiotics. if left untreated it can lead to infertility in all humans, pelvic inflammatory disease, chronic pelvic pain, pregnancy outside the uterus (ectopic pregnancy)

Prevention: there are lots of options! getting tested (yourself and your sexual partner/s), completing antibiotic treatment, having sex with barriers, abstinence (if that's your flex), having sex again once the chlamydia is cleared (to prevent passing it between each other). 

Wednesday, 1 March 2017

Buzzing Flies: An Incest Purge

pictured in front of a white background, the torso of a mannequin with no arms is painted with dark brown acrylic paint and has a black paper mache afro. locates on the stomach of the mannequin is a large hairy terracotta vulva with white discharge that is surrounded by flies.
Buzzing Flies: An Incest Purge
Medium: Acrylic,terracotta and papier-mache on fibreglass

Content warning: Incest, sexual violence, healing!

Last year was my chrysalis year. Moving into 2016 I felt like a caterpillar, and I kept asking myself if a caterpillar knew, upon creating its chrysalis, what it would emerge as. I had mentioned before that my mental health was a mess. I was shaken to a point where my body, spirit and mind no longer had the capacity to hold onto all of the things I had suppressed within my being, particularly around incest and sexual violence. Moving through/with my cocooning process (marked by lots of crying, confusion, anguish, fear and anger) I made the decision to transmute the energy of shame I was carrying about my experiences into art. It was (and still is) my purging process.

This multi-medium sculpture is a slow descent into madness and a projection of incest. It holds decades of incessant buzzing flies; an internal rotting ensues delusion, repression, anxiety and depression from internalizing shame, disgust, anger, guilt, blame and fear. It is the reality of longing to let go, but the fucked up experience of finding comfort in the familiarity of trauma. Nursing its existence silently out of routine.

It is simultaneously a call to exhale. To sculpt and recreate the possibilities of my existence beyond the limitations of traumatic experiences. Enacting personal power by taking responsibility of my process of becoming, and cultivating a path of love from lessons of pain.

I made this piece for Nuit Rose: A Festival of Queer Art and Performance for Toronto Pride 2016.

two people varying in race and gender are bent down looking at the scuplture
Photo by: Tanya Turton

Sunday, 26 February 2017

Vulva Is Resistant to Antibiotics

within a dotted circle black text reads, antibiotic resistance, what is it? The background image is a faded image of 6 crochet genitalia of different colours with varying representations of STI symptoms. vulva is

Antibiotic resistance is when bacteria are no longer responsive to antibiotics that are meant to kill them. When a bacteria is exposed to treatment too often (over-reliance on antibiotic treatment as illness management) or at infrequent low doses (when treatment is not fully completed/adhered to), like other living organisms its DNA changes to be able to survive.

Why does it matter?
Globally, there have been reports of gonorrhea (N. gonorrhoeae - bacteria name) strains that are resistant to first-line antibiotic therapy (like penicillin, tetracycline, erythromycin and ciprofloxacin - types of antibiotics). When bacterial infections, like gonorrhea, are no longer responsive to the medical treatments available it remains untreated in the body and can lead to health complications like: infertility, chronic pelvic pain, bacteria spreading to the blood causing nervous system damage, parent to child transmission, or ectopic pregnancies. Also, the presence on an STI in the body increases the likelihood getting another STI like chlamydia, or HIV (the virus that can lead to AIDS).

In Kanata (Canada), gonorrhea is the second most commonly diagnosed and reported bacterial STI. Much like the incidences of STIs, antibiotic resistance will vary from country to country, even regionally. The distribution of antibiotic resistance can be thought of in the same way as other STIs, the social determinants of health and health inequities are really important when thinking about why there are higher rates of certain antibiotic resistance both geographically and socially.

Sources Cited:
1. Centre of Disease Control and Prevention. 2017. Drug-Resistant Gonorrhea. Retrieved from: https://www.cdc.gov/drugresistance/solutions-initiative/drug-resistant-gonorrhea.html 

2. Public Health Agency of Canada. 2013. Canadian Guidelines on Sexually Transmitted Infections. Retrieved from: http://www.phac-aspc.gc.ca/std-mts/sti-its/cgsti-ldcits/section-5-6-eng.php#toc361210445
3. Public Health Agency of Canada. 2015. Canada Communicable Disease Report. Retrieved from: http://www.phac-aspc.gc.ca/std-mts/sti-its/cgsti-ldcits/section-5-6-eng.php#toc361210445
4. Tapsall J. Antibiotic resistance in Neisseria gonorrhoeae is diminishing available treatment options for gonorrhoea: Some possible remedies. Expert Rev Anti Infect Ther. 2006; 4:619-628