BC Gay Men's Health Summit to address health info explosion

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      Keeping up with the daily deluge of developments on Facebook, Twitter, and other social media can be a job in itself. But staying on top of the latest data in the health field can be quite the challenge for health-industry professionals, let alone the average gay or bisexual male.

      It's not just a matter of staying informed about what's out there, but—due to the free-for-all nature of the internet—also being able to critically assess and digest information in an ever-changing context.

      The explosion of health content created by the internet has its pros and cons, and demands such skills as being able to separate the wheat from the chaff.

      The tenth year of the Gay Men's Health Summit, which takes place on Thursday and Friday (October 30 and 31), will be centered upon this topical subject of health literacy.

      The summit includes presentations, workshops, and multimedia projects by local, national, and international speakers (including guests from Scotland and Australia). A sizeable number of these talks will be devoted to health literacy with regards to everything from awareness campaigns to outreach services.

      A number of speakers will talk about literacy in the context of HIV knowledge, such as self-testing, language usage, prevention, and more.

      Dr. Mark Gilbert of the Ontario HIV Treatment Network (formerly with the BC Centre for Disease Control) will lead a panel discussion about the future of health literacy research and initiatives for gay and bisexual men.

      Health Initiative for Men's Michael Kwag will present findings from sexual health community consultations with Chinese and Punjabi men in Metro Vancouver. Elsewhere in the program, community development consultants Zain Meghji and Romi Chandra Herbert will address racism and sexual health in South Asian communities.

      Beyond health literacy, a variety of other hot topics about gay and bisexual male health are also lined up.

      For the first time at the Summit, a panel will present a workshop on cancer prevention for gay men, and will include experts from the Canadian Cancer Society and the UBC Cancer Prevention Centre.

      Suicide prevention will also be addressed by various speakers, including UBC School of Nursing's Elizabeth Saewyc, who will talk about what can help to lower suicidality among queer male teens.

      The University of Calgary's Daniel Elleker will discuss the impact of internalized homophobia in young gay and bisexual men.

      There'll also be a workshop on personal care practices of men who attend group-sex events.

      For those interested in the arts, there'll be a staged reading and discussion of Eyes Wide Open by Craig Barron. The play, about four gay men of varying ages sharing a rural Ontario house, tackles issues such as aging, mental health, and HIV.

      The national Sex Now Survey, which will focus on how generations deal with current sexual health issues, will also be launched at the summit.

      These examples are only a few highlights of this year's forum. For full details or to register, visit the Community-Based Research Centre website.

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