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Thursday, September 18, 2008

Reproductive Health (and sexual literacy)

For the past two days, I have been at the Association of Reproductive Health Professionals Annual Meeting in Washington, D.C. This is a different type of conference for me in that the majority of the attendees are medical providers, whereas I am used to hanging with the behavioral and social scientist types. I'm going to be blogging about my experiences at the conference for the next few days, so keep checking back to see what I'm learning from all these great docs and nurses. Read my take on today's activities after the jump.

On Wednesday, I attended a pre-conference work shop on providing post-abortion emotional health information and resources. Sounds like a yawnfest to me. I had wanted to attend the session on advocating for your hot button issue, but was "advised" to go to this one instead. What a freakin' surprise! I was blown away by not only the workshop content but by the three amazing women who facilitated the workshop. I was particularly impressed by the work and presentation style of Aspen Baker, one of the co-founders of Exhale, an after-abortion counseling talk line. I also learned how providing women and those in their lives emotional health information and resources can make a world of difference for those women, the providers, and the larger community. Think about it...

Thursday morning, at the ungoldly hour of 7:45 am (that's 4:45 in California!), I heard one of the most moving talks I've heard in a very long time. Dr. Richard Horton from the UK talked about the urgent need for reproductive health care globally. He stressed how gender inequity continues to create a lack of badly needed reproductive health services for woman, particularly in developing countries. He stated that "Reproductive Health IS the key to Global Health and Social Justice." Strong words. I think I'm a believer.

However, as you can possibly guess, the reproductive health world has little to say about sexuality and sexual health. Of course, one of the reasons that I am at this meeting is to think about ways in which we can use Sexual Literacy to promote doctors bridging sexuality and sexual health with reproductive health. Interestingly, during a plenary about the top ten articles download from the journal Contraception in the past year, it was revealed that number three (3) on the list, in a list of articles about hormonal contraceptions and IUDs, was an editorial about doctors and parents communicating with teens about sexuality. Maybe clinicians do want to talk about sexuality...hmmmm. I believe that sexual literacy and reproductive health, together, are the key to global health and social justice.

Check back tomorrow for more adventures from Washington.


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