By: Aditi Dwivedi, News Writer
The week of February 14–18 marks the annual Sexual and Reproductive Health Awareness Week in Canada. A survey designed by the Sex Information and Education Council of Canada was conducted by the Canadian Journal of Human Sexuality in January 2021. They found there has been a decline in access to sexual health resources, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The survey noted the need for increased public health messaging regarding sexual behaviour, investment in sexual health services, and support tailored to the needs of women, LGBTQIA2S+ individuals, and people of colour.
SFU Health and Counselling services, and various student-run community groups like the Women’s Centre, Out on Campus, and Health Peer Educators Sexual Health Team offer a variety of sexual health services. Their aim is to help destigmatize the topics surrounding sexual health, to provide on-campus services, and to make the transition to university life a safe and positive experience.
SFU Health and Counselling
SFU Health and Counselling offers in-person and virtual appointments with a nurse or physician. They also offer sexually transmitted infection (STI) tests, urinary tract infection (UTI) tests, pregnancy tests, and pap smear tests. They can provide vaccines for Hepatitis A/B/HPV, and fill PrEP prescriptions — which reduces the chance of getting HIV through sex or drug use. These are available to eligible students for free. To determine your eligibility, visit SFU Health and Counselling.
According to Barb Chick, a registered nurse at SFU Health and Counselling, their services can provide referrals for transgender students seeking top or bottom surgery. They provide support and referrals for those considering therapeutic termination of pregnancies. They can also help students who have experienced sexual violence connect with the Sexual Violence Support and Prevention Office.
Student-run community groups like Women’s Centre and Out on Campus, which are departments of the Simon Fraser Student Society, also provide a variety of resources for students. The Women’s Centre engages with students by connecting those who require urgent crisis intervention to therapists, counsellors, and reproductive health clinics both on and off-campus.
In an interview with The Peak, Simmi Dhaliwal, Women’s Centre coordinator, spoke about how the Women’s Centre “reflects the needs and wants of students.” The Women’s Centre provides sexual health supplies like pregnancy tests, condoms, lube, and menstrual supplies to students of all gender-identities. These supplies are available to all SFU students and can be obtained physically at the Women’s Centre on SFU Burnaby. They can also be mailed to your address with free shipping and delivery in Canada by filling the order mailing form available on the Women’s Centre Instagram profile.
Dhaliwal noted they don’t have access to emergency contraceptive pills such as Plan B but they can “give out Plan B options. We have gift cards from Nesters that we give out to students so they don’t have to pay out of pocket.”
According to Dhaliwal, the Women’s Centre functions as a link to SFU Health and Counselling and various other student-run community groups like Disability and Neurodiversity Alliance (DNA), SFU Students of Caribbean and African Ancestry (SOCA), and the First Nations, Métis, & Inuit Student Association (FNMISA). “We collaboratively work together to service all community members within those pockets.”
The Women’s Centre aims to make the “academic life of students as easy as possible.” Dhaliwal commented on the difficulties of student-life and how the constant worry of financial instability should not affect their access to sexual health resources. “A student shouldn’t have to worry about a pad, or a tampon, or access to pregnancy tests, Plan B options, or getting the help that they need in a physical and mental way.”
Out on Campus
Out on Campus provides “a safe and inclusive space for LGBTQIA2S+ students and their allies” at the SFU Burnaby campus. They provide safe sex resources, menstrual products, razors, and refreshments.
They curate an Out on Campus library that is located in the Student Union Building. All SFU students are eligible to borrow these resources. Out on Campus said they are providing opportunities for the SFU community to learn more about LGBTQIA2S+ “culture, history, and issues, and help you grow as an advocate.”
Find out more information on the sexual health services provided by SFU Health and Counselling, Women’s Centre, and Out on Campus by visiting their websites or visiting them on the SFU Burnaby campus.
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