Sexual health

In Canada, the epidemiological portrait of sexual health in the First Nations is marked by higher rates of HIV/AIDS, hepatitis C and sexually transmitted infections than in the population overall.

Teenage pregnancies are also a major concern; almost one of every five births (20%) in First Nations in Canada involves an adolescent mother. 

A relatively small amount of data is currently available regarding the sexual health of the First Nations in Quebec. According to recent data [link to Survey on the sexual behaviour...], it is estimated that half of youths aged 12 to 18 are sexually active. It was also seen that youths in this age group engage too often in certain at-risk behaviours:

  • non-systematic use of condoms;
  • multiple partners;
  • use of alcohol or drugs before having sex.

Certain gaps have also been noted in First Nations’ knowledge about different blood-borne and sexually transmitted infections (STBBIs), their transmission mechanisms and adequate means for protection against them.

Quebec First Nations and Inuit HIV/AIDS Strategy

The Circle of Hope: The First Nations and Inuit of Quebec HIV and AIDS Strategy was published in February 2000. This strategy was made up of five components:

  • Knowledge: develop knowledge among First Nations members concerning sexual health;
  • Prevention: prevent contracting and transmission of STBBIs among First Nations members;
  • Care and treatment: ensure access to services and resources for the population and workers involved in the area of sexual health;
  • Healthy communities: promote healthy sexual behaviours and respectful attitudes;
  • Coordination: ensure continuity of services offered by different providers.

By way of these components, the Strategy sought to equip workers in the communities with tools to assist them in offering information, education and services concerning HIV/AIDS to the public. The FNQLHSSC was assigned the responsibility for implementing this strategy. 

Since 2007, actions concerning HIV/AIDS and sexual health have been defined on the basis of the priorities set out in the Quebec First Nations Health and Social Services Blueprint 2007-2017.

Services offered by the Commission

The FNQLHSSC has the mandate to support the communities and workers in their activities. The approaches used are: transmission of information, development of skills and creation of materials.

Transmission of information

The commission publishes The Circle of Hope twice a year. The objective of this newsletter is to provide an information and communication platform for all persons working in the area of First Nations’ sexual health.

The FNQLHSSC also distributes relevant information throughout its network (new publications, events, etc.)

Development of skills

It is essential that workers be well trained to deal with the various problems affecting the sexual health of the members of their community. To ensure such training, the FNQLHSSC:

  • organizes forums and conferences allowing workers to keep their knowledge up to date;
  • provides on-site or videoconference-based training to workers;
  • informs workers about conferences or training sessions offered by other organizations;

Creation of materials

In addition to its work to develop training workshops, the FNQLHSSC produces various information and educational documents for workers and the population. These free resources are available upon request.