Talk to a nurse

If you have questions about HIV or any other topic about your sexual health visit HealthLinkBC, or talk to a registered nurse at the BC Centre for Disease Control who can provide you with the information or the referrals you need.

Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transsexual, Transgender, Two-Spirited, Queer, Questioning and Intersexed

Stacey HewlettI am many things. I am a wife, sister, daughter, friend. I am funny, smart, beautiful, and sarcastic. I am athletic and full of procrastination. I am the life of a party and a great listener. I have greying hair and green eyes. I am tall and 37. I am a lesbian and an auntie, a stepmom and a hard worker.

Who are you? Think of your “list”. Would it be fair if I took one word from your list and judged you simply on that description?  Whether the word is positive or negative, I am more than one thing. If we judge ourselves and others on one thing, and one thing alone, we are truly denying our true selves and limiting the beauty of the people we share our lives with. If I was HIV+, that would again be only one thing that would be a part of my whole....

We, as a people, have to start realizing that things are not what they appear. That people are made up of many layers and that it is not fair to them or us to judge based on one layer. I understand that people don’t understand things. I challenge you to then educate yourselves. Learn about things that make you wonder and shake your head. We are in a time of civilization right now where the world is at our finger tips — literally. Explore!!! Talk to people that you would not normally talk to. Go out of your way, for a moment, to better yourself. You will see the change, not only in yourself but in those you reach out to.

Homosexuality is found in over 1,500 species in our world; homophobia is found in only one. It is a learned behaviour which tells me it can be unlearned. Straight people have often asked me, “Why are there gay pride parades? Why can’t we have a straight parade?” I say to that, “Organize one; I will walk with you to show my support.”

Why do we have gay pride parades? Check out this link — — and it will explain the Stonewall Riots. I also get asked the question, “When did you know you were gay?” I ask you, “When did you know you were straight? What do you think caused your heterosexuality?”

If being gay was a choice, do you really think people would choose it? It is hard to be true to yourself; it is hard to go against the “norms” of society. I am proud to be all of the things I am. I am proud to be Stacey. I am proud to know all of the people I know even if I don’t share their beliefs and opinions because their differences make me stronger and more complete.

Stacey Hewlett, HIV/AIDS Educator, Positive Living North, Prince George, BC

Beautifully, uniquely, spectacularly you! Having the freedom, acceptance and support in our lives to be who we are is essential to our well-being. Sexuality is an important aspect in our lives, and can be defined and expressed in a bounty of ways. Embracing and identifying our own sexuality can empower our journey in life and provide direction and support for others.

HIV has no conscience — it is an opportunistic virus. Transmission can occur through unprotected sex or blood-to-blood transmission, as in sharing injection drug use equipment. The only way to know that you may be infected with HIV is to get tested. It has been documented that some of the reasons for not practicing safer sex or sharing injection/drug equipment are linked to the following;

  • Belief that it won’t happen to me;

  • Low self-esteem, depression, and lack of peer support;

  • Limited access to, or discomfort in accessing prevention services;

  • HIV/AIDS burnout (tired of worrying about contracting it);

  • Outdated or overly simplistic safer-sex messages not specific to them;

  • Media portrayal that HIV is a chronic condition, not a health emergency.(Harrison, 2011)

If you are sexually active, get the test! If you participate in unprotected rectal, vaginal, and oral sex — both in giving and receiving — and share sex toys, you are putting yourself at risk of contracting HIV and other sexually transmited infections (STIs). Excluding urine, all sexual secretions from the penis or vagina have the potential to spread HIV. Wearing condoms during vaginal, rectal and oral sex will offer protection for you and your sexual partners. Lubrication can help by preventing tears in the membranes of the vagina and rectum, as well as help to prevent condom breakage. Organizations such as the Prince George AIDS Prevention Needle Exchange provide harm reduction supplies including condoms (male and female), lubrication, and drug use supplies free of charge, to help keep you safer.

HIV testing can be done as a traditional blood draw, or an instant HIV test, also known as Point of Care (POC). Traditional testing takes up to two weeks for results, while the POC is done in front of you, providing instant results. Make sure to include either one of these tests along with your basic STI screening. Take a stand, ask for the test!

Testing sites offer confidential, non-judgmental, safe, non-discriminatory assessment testing and follow-up care. Traditional testing can be accessed through your primary care provider and is also available in many locations throughout the Northern BC Region. Find the location closest to you.

For more information please call the HIV outreach nurse at 250-617-7942.

Links to Local and Regional Online Resources

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Linking with community supports can be a powerful tool in helping to increase all aspects of personal well-being and provide a sense of belonging, support and community.

Positive Living North

  • Provides HIV/AIDS/HCV prevention and education
  • For people living with HIV/AIDS, provides social support and advocacy, crisis intervention, support for drug/alcohol issues
  • Offers community education surrounding HIV/AIDS and related issues
  • One-on-one counselling also available is sponsored by the STOP HIV/AIDS pilot project which is funded by the Government of British Columbia supporting Northern Health, Vancouver Coastal Health, the Provincial Health Services Authority, Providence Health Care, and the BC Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS. The STOP HIV/AIDS project aims to expand HIV testing, treatment, and support in British Columbia.
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