Dear IFMSA Friends,
HIV/AIDS and other STIs attract high levels of stigma worldwide. People do not want to talk about them, they don’t want to be associated with them; but these are really important issues affecting our sexual health. Stigma is a barrier for anyone with an STI in attaining the highest quality of healthcare and it is also entirely manmade, thus it must be addressed and worked against.
This is why I’m glad to showcase the work of BeMSA who took time to shed a light on this important issue. They executed a beautiful activity which has also been reported and was very impactful. See for yourself!
IFMSA Programs’ Newsletter of May 2018
“The Stigma Challenge”– Belgian Medical Students’ Association (BeMSA)
Our Goal- Why focusing on Stigma?
Historically, as you all may know, SCORA was “driven by a strong will to take an active part in interventions concerning HIV and sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and to support people living with HIV/AIDS through working to decrease stigma and discrimination.” Aside from International events like “World AIDS Day” in which we took part, we wanted to take another moment within our term to address “stigma” in a broader way, not only by focussing on HIV but also by moving along other SCORA Focus Areas.
What did we do? – Three events for this Edition.
On the 27th of March 2018, three cities, Brussels, Ghent and Leuven, hosted their own edition of “The Stigma Challenge”, each Local Committee being free to approach “stigma” in their own vision.
In Brussels, people, and mostly teenagers, were invited to take part in a circuit of different stops. The goal was to test and improve their current knowledge about HIV, AIDS, STIs, and teach them in a playful way about sexual behaviour, and get familiar with screening or contraceptives.
In Leuven, people could visit different booths, some of them concerning knowledge about HIV, AIDS, and STIs while having more daring ones, with, among others, a condom race, a speed-dating game, an “Upperdare stand” (presentation of sex-toys), and the opportunity to attend a free consultation with a Sexologist.
In Ghent, the focus was on “Sexuality and Migration”, exploring this topic through interactive games, information stands of organizations who work in this field and lectures by researchers and health professional, one of their guests being the International Centre for Reproductive Health (ICRH).
Our students and volunteers were able to reach between 400 and 500 people, some of them being medical students themselves, while others being passers-by.
How to implement your own Stigma Challenge?
- Start ahead of time.
- Try to define your team’s vision of stigmatisation and how you can bring it to your public.
- Find motivated students and organizations within your Local Committee.
- Get started!
I wish you all the best.
Hanna Ballout, LORA 2017-2018
Université Catholique de Louvain, Brussels
A huge thank you to the NORA Pieterjan Van Rijckeghem, Hanna Ballout and the entire BeMSA SCORA Team for sharing! It’s very inspiring and we can appreciate the impact of their work as they also reported their activity. So, if you have an activity already enrolled make sure to report it and share your outcomes with us! If you haven’t enrolled yet, what are you waiting for? I’m always available at [email protected] to share ideas with you, answer your questions and help with the enrolment or reporting process.
Red hearts and Red Hugs,
Modupe Ojelabi, Program Coordinator on HIV/AIDS and other STIs