Tuesday, April 21, 2015

RE: Age Cap on Sexual Health Clinics

Dear Victor Boudreau, New Brunswick Minister of Health,
John McGarry, President and CEO, Horizon Health Network,
Jean Castonguay, Interim President and CEO, Vitalité Health Network


I write today angry and disappointed with the inaccessibility of STI testing services in the province of New Brunswick. Your administrative units are responsible for this failure to ensure public health, and it is your duty as the Health Ministry and network leadership to provide better sexual health services to New Brunswickers.

Compelling sexual health clinics to restrict their services to 14-19 year olds is an idiotic practice that disregards the social and economic benefits of STI prevention. In addition to restricting STI testing services to teens, the Health Ministry, Horizon, and Vitalit√© websites are both ineffective and inaccurate at providing information about how to get tested in the province. By a mile, AIDS NB has the most accessible information on testing in the province. Further, rural citizens are largely dissuaded from STI testing because services are concentrated in New Brunswick's cities. 


My own case of service denial cannot be that uncommon. I've recently returned to the province at 27 with no family doctor. I don't have a car, and I live in a Sussex, which has a sexual health clinic (for teens), but there is no reasonable way for me to get an STI test. I have no symptoms and have always practiced safer sex; if I did have symptoms, I could (would) go to the local emergency room and endure a resource intensive triage process before seeing a doctor. I just want to know my HIV/STI status like a responsible adult, but that's not an option.


New Brunswick's public approach to sex is one that leaves much to be desired. Archaic sex education and sparse provisions of STI testing and abortions paint a bleak picture for youth and young professionals. The poor quality of New Brunswicks' sexual health services factors into our economic duress in two additional ways beyond preventative health savings: as a push factor facilitating the the massive youth out-migration the province suffers and as a barrier for young professionals considering laying down roots in the picture province. If the New Brunswick can't even be a good place to have sex, why would someone choose to move or stay here?

With utmost urgency and sincerity, I implore you to remove the age restrictions and other community-identified barriers to sexual health services in the province.


Sincerely,


D$$


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