About 1.5 years ago the AIDS Bureau, Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care began a process of developing a provincial framework for a strengthened response to the HIV prevention needs of gay/bi/MSM. The origin of this work was Ontario’s HIV/AIDS Strategy to 2008, a policy document developed by the Ontario Advisory Committee on HIV/AIDS that outlined directions for HIV services in the province from 2002 – 2008. One of the recommendations in that document was a coordinated strategy to support gay men’s prevention.

In March 2004 the AIDS Bureau hosted a provincial gay men’s HIV prevention summit with participants from around the province. At that time, a series of ideas were presented of what a more coordinated response to HIV prevention would look like. There was a consensus that the AIDS Bureau was moving in the right direction. A provincial working group was struck and met for one year to hammer out the details.

During the process of meeting, the provincial working group identified trans issues as a gap in the work to-date. One of the priorities identified by the working group was to engage in a dialogue with transmen to assess the feasibility of including trans issues within the provincial gay men’s HIV prevention strategy. We invited Kyle Scanlon to join the provincial working group and are now at a stage of wanting to talk with more transmen about this issue.

We would like to hold a meeting or a series of meetings (whatever is needed) to talk with transmen who are gay or bisexual (though this may be inappropriately exclusionary) about issues related to inclusion in the provincial gay men’s HIV prevention strategy.

Some questions we might consider include:

  • To what extent does the strategy as it reads now function to meet the needs of transmen? Are there significant gaps in the way it has been constructed or written that reduce the likelihood that the work coming out of the strategy could meet the needs of transmen?
  • What concerns arise in thinking about integrating transmen’s issues into a broader framework for addressing the HIV prevention and sexual health needs of gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men?
  • Are there concerns with how the strategy to-date has understood its target audience when considering transsexual and transgendered people? So far, we have defined the target audience as transmen who identify as gay or bisexual and transpeople who participate in public sex venues where the HIV prevention work is likely to take place (e.g. bathhouses, sex clubs, gay bars, parks).

We are just at a stage of attempting to identify some transmen who might be interested in attending a meeting or series of meetings to have this discussion and provide direction to the provincial strategy on how best to move forward with addressing transmen’s HIV prevention needs within the provincial framework.

If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to call James Murray at the AIDS Bureau. You can reach James directly at 416-327-8816 or james.murray@moh.gov.on.ca.

Please forward to any gay, bisexual and trans men who have sex with men you know.

Thanks,
Kyle Scanlon
Trans Programmes Coordinator
The 519 Church Street Community Centre