We get it – for many guys who party, finding a healthcare provider that doesn’t judge us and understands our specific needs can be a big challenge. Many providers in Ontario lack specific education around gay sex and drug use which makes it difficult for them to understand the type of sex we’re having and the contexts where our sex takes place. Because of this, it can be a stressful experience to disclose details around our partying. Not to worry, we’ve put together a brief guide to support guys who party in accessing meaningful and relevant sexual healthcare in Ontario – check it out below.
Where to Start
It’s important to start by reflecting on what you need, as this will guide you towards the most appropriate providers and services. If you’re looking to access testing services, think about which types of testing you’re looking to access – HIV? Gonorrhea? Syphilis? If you’re looking for tools to support you in having the sex you want, think about what this might look like – PrEP? Pipes? Needles? Lube? Once you’ve narrowed your scope, it’s time to start your search. A good place to begin is by checking in with local community health centres, local 2SLGBTQ+ services, AIDS service organizations, and family health teams. Having conversations with your friends, partner(s), and guys you party with can represent a screening process, where you get feedback and tips on what to expect from certain providers, or where to go to access the most affirming and useful sexual healthcare that understands and supports your partying.
Building a Foundation
To prep for your first meet with a new provider it’s useful to reflect on your sexual orientation, gender identity, and what your sex tends to look like. Although it can be stressful and uncomfortable at first, being open about your sexual orientation and gender identity is important for securing the care you deserve. Also, taking some notes on your sexual health history (any previous STBBIs, challenges with getting hard, etc.), who you typically have sex with, and where you typically have sex can prepare you to have the most productive conversation with your provider. It’s also important to keep in mind what you’re looking for in a provider – from strictly prescriptive to warm and therapeutic. The characteristics of our providers influence our relationship over time, and connecting with a good match is important for accessing meaningful sexual healthcare that supports our partying.
Interviewing: It’s a Two-Way Street
Your first meet with a provider typically involves them asking you some questions around your sexual health history, but this first meet also represents an opportunity for you to ask your provider questions about their knowledge and skillset. It’s useful to go into your first meet with a list of questions about your provider’s experience and skills in working with guys who party. These questions can help you determine the level of PnP-related knowledge your provider has and can represent a space for them to discuss whether they’re willing to learn more. Check out the ‘Tools & Resources’ section below for a list of sample questions – you’ve got this!
Tools & Resources
Check out this list of some sample questions to ask your provider during your first meet:
- Do you currently provide, or have you previously provided, care to guys who party?
- Can I talk to you about anal sex (including topping and bottoming), oral sex, etc.?
- Are you comfortable screening me for STIs (including throat and rectal swabs when indicated), HIV, and HCV and providing safer sex counseling and education?
- I am in a serodiscordant relationship as I do not have HIV and my partner is living with HIV. Can you provide care for me?
- I recently tested positive for HIV. Are you able to provide HIV care and treatment and monitor my blood test results?
- What is your knowledge and comfort on substance use—including party and play (PnP)—and harm reduction?
- Can I receive the HPV vaccine Gardasil-9 (if age qualifies < 26 years), and also vaccines against hepatitis A and hepatitis B? (Note: If older than 26 years, ask if you can receive Gardasil 9 as some guidelines recommend up to 45 years of age)
- Do you feel comfortable assessing and managing anal health, including doing a digital rectal anal exam when appropriate?
- Can you refer me to a mental health counselor knowledgeable of 2SGBMSM’s mental and emotional health needs?
- I am in a same-sex or queer relationship; my partner is also looking for a healthcare provider. Can you take my partner as a client too?
Check out this service provider directory put together by Rainbow Health Ontario for a list of affirming sexual healthcare providers in Ontario.