Panel participants after the session

On Tuesday afternoon, members of GlobalSHARE, a global community for sex, HIV, and reproductive empowerment, two Johannesburg youth and I participated in a panel about safer conception for sero-discordant couples, PrEP use during conception and pregnancy, and how to engage youth in the conversation about reproductive empowerment. The panel was located in the Global Village, so any and all community members could attend, regardless of whether or not they were registered for the event.

To see a breakdown of the schedule and panel members, you can visit the session’s page on the AIDS 2016 website. You can also access the slides for two of the panel members. HIVE’s own Yamini Oseguera-Bhatnagar gave the introduction and moderated the panel.

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Image courtesy of aids2016.org

Each member of the panel presented on the safer conception work being done in their clinics and workplaces. Several discussed case studies on how they have served various sero-discordant couples within those couples’ preferences and comfort zones.

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Yamini presented two questions to the youth panel members: Why are sexual and reproductive rights important to youth? and How can we best reach youth with messaging about sexual and reproductive health, including safer conception? Our three answers covered the bases of safety, security and empowerment for youth through sexual and reproductive health and rights. We also thought that schools, churches, after school programs and other community centers would be excellent places to reach youth with information about SRHR and safer conception options.

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Panel members wearing PleasePrEPMe earrings

During the Q&A session, an audience member asked about how safer conception services are being used to assist transgender patients. HIVE has created a brochure in English and Spanish on how safer conception is being extended to gay, single parent by choice, and co-parenting families.

Another audience member raised concerns about how to reach youth who either do not attend school, or have graduated. Between the three of us, Gcina, Rosina and I answered that youth can still be reached through community centers, but that by educating some youth and making them ambassadors in a way, SRHR information can be shared throughout the youth population as they teach and learn from each other. (One organization which uses this model is LoveLife, who I interviewed later in the week ).

Some takeaways from the panel and Q&A session:

  • Women need to remain at the center of the conversation.
  • There is a need for more + better resources for queer and trans folk in the realm of fertility and safer conception.
  • Abortion access is still an issue, and a factor in a women’s right to choose what to do with her own body. In securing safer conception options, we need to remain mindful of maintaining all available choices for women.
  • Youth need to be part of the conversation, and can be involved through peer education programs and social media. Instead of making assumptions about what youth want, we should ask questions of them and invite them into the conversation.
  • There needs to be relationships between medical providers with HIV specialty and OB/GYNs in order to offer sero-positive and sero-discordant couples the best possible conception outcomes.

If you want to see more audience reactions to the panel, check out the hashtags #GlobalSHARE and #HIVLoveWins on Twitter.

And one a slight side note, HIVE had a poster up on Wednesday about how PrEP is being used during pregnancy and breastfeeding at US medical centers.

 

You can view the poster here, on the HIVE website.