What we’re reading and watching: Recommended resources

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by BARBARA BOURRIER-LACROIX, Information Centre Coordinator, with GHISLAINE ALLEYNE


Inaugural International Institute on Gender and HIV/AIDS: Strengthening the Connection Between Practice, Policy and Research
Barbara Clow (International Institute on Gender and HIV/AIDS, 2005)

The Inaugural International Institute on Gender and HIV/AIDS (IIGHA) was held 7-11 June 2004 at the Kopanong Conference Centre in Johannesburg, South Africa. Eighty-eight participants, including senior government decision makers, researchers, programme managers and practitioners, activists and advocates from Botswana, Canada, Lesotho, South Africa and Swaziland, gathered together with representatives from regional and international organizations. They met to share their experiences and expertise on the HIV/AIDS pandemic, and to build partnerships and capacity to address the role of gender in HIV prevention, treatment, care, support and impact mitigation, share expertise and experience, and enable mutual learning based on good practices and lessons learned.

The goal of the Institute is to strengthen the connections between practice, policy and research in order to enhance or extend existing efforts to tackle issues of gender and HIV/AIDS through the creation of a global network of expertise on gender-based analysis and planning in HIV/AIDS.

This document not only provides us with a comprehensive report of the conference, but also introduces and presents the rich history of the Institute. Available online, in PDF format at www.acewh.dal.ca/IIGHA_files/IIGHA_2004_final_report.pdf

Retro Woman: Navigating Advanced HIV/AIDS Treatment
CD-ROM (BC Persons With AIDS Society, 2004)

Women with HIV/AIDS face unique clinical issues. They are often diagnosed later and generally have poorer access to care and medications. Women tend to have higher viral loads and lower CD4 counts. They must also contend with vulnerability related to reproductive issues and domestic violence. Finally, women living with HIV/AIDS are usually relied upon to meet the care needs of children and other family members.

HIV-positive women, and their health care providers, need access to treatment information on topics specific to women, such as disease progression, gynaecological health, side effects, hormones, gender and viral load, sexually transmitted infections and antiretrovirals. Recognizing this need, the BC Persons With AIDS Society and the Positive Women’s Network developed this comprehensive CD-ROM. Users will find fact sheets, articles and lectures all relating to HIV treatment (and some pretty cool animation in the introduction!)

Beyond the Blues: A Guide to Understanding and Treating Prenatal and Postpartum Depression
Shoshana S. Bennett and Pec Indman (Moodswings Press, 2003)

Becoming a mother -- either for the first or fifth time -- is a life-altering event. And contrary to popular belief, motherhood isn't instinctive and it certainly isn't easy. Feeling sad and anxious and depressed after childbirth makes it even harder, especially when people tell you to "cheer up," or "you just need some more sleep."

Our healthcare providers rarely screen for postpartum depression, yet it is a real condition that can have many negative effects on our health, and our babies' health. Thankfully, the authors of this work are around to help! This small book provides a large amount of information about risk factors, diagnosis, treatment and prevention of mood disorders in pregnancy and postpartum. It's written not just for sufferers of postpartum disorders, but also their families and healthcare professionals.

I wish I had this book after my daughter was born; I would have learned that I wasn't alone and that I could have gotten the help I needed. This book should be required reading for anyone working or caring for pregnant women.

Prenatal Genetic Testing Facts
The Roeher Institute with the National Network on Environments and Women’s Health (2005)

Faced with the results of prenatal testing procedures such as fetal ultrasound, maternal serum screening (MSS) and chorionic villus sampling (CVS), future parents may find themselves unprepared to make decisions based on balanced and accurate information. This fact sheet presents some basic information about prenatal tests, the ethics of testing, and an overview of how prenatal diagnosis has developed into such a ubiquitous part of pregnancy. The resource also provides a discussion of the relationship between prenatal testing and negative perceptions of people with disabilities, arguing that these two issues are very much intertwined. Also included is a list of resources for individuals and couples seeking information and assistance.

For copies of the fact sheet, contact The Roeher Institute at: info@roeher.ca or (416) 661-9611. The fact sheet can also be downloaded from the National Network on Environments and Women’s Health: www.yorku.ca/nnewh

Lose Weight... or be Yourself?
(Association pour la santé publique du Québec, 2004)

"Lose weight while you sleep." "Lose weight and keep it off for good." "New scientific breakthrough...a medical miracle!" We've all seen or read these advertisements for quick weight loss. The weight-loss industry offers a multitude of choices for women (and men): diets, meal replacements, weight-loss programs, natural products, and other devices that promise to give us a flat stomach, slender legs and a model-thin figure. But most of these weight-loss products, services and methods do not live up to their promises.

The Association pour la santé publique du Québec (ASPQ) asks, "Should we continue to encourage an industry with such poor performance, an industry that fails to fulfill its promises?" This educational guide provides an excellent overview of popular weight-loss methods and the health risks associated with them. The weight-loss industry is unregulated in Canada, and it is clear that the industry cares more about filling its pockets than fulfilling its promises.

Fuelling Body, Mind and Spirit: A Balanced Approach to Healthy Eating
Miriam Hoffer (Sumach Press, 2003)

The Atkins Diet. The South Beach Diet. Shun Carbohydrates. Load up on protein… Women are tired of hearing about fad diet plans that don’t really work. The diet industry is just that – an industry. Its only concern is making money. This book challenges the industry by looking at food, eating and women’s relationships. The author not only looks at what we eat, but also when, why and how we make the food choices we do. The goal of a healthy, balanced diet shouldn’t be to lose weight and be desperately thin. It should be, as Miriam Hoffer shows us, about respecting our bodies and enjoying an energetic, healthy life.

Shameless magazine
(Toronto: http://www.shamelessmag.com)

Tired of reading Jane or Seventeen or Cosmo Girl? Looking for a magazine for teens that talks about more than just makeup? Introducing Shameless, a fresh alternative for smart, strong, sassy young women. Each issue of Shameless is packed with articles about arts, culture, current events, profiles of amazing women, health and sexuality advice, and many other hot topics. This is a magazine that prides itself on reaching out to readers who often get ignored by mainstream media, i.e., freethinkers, queer youth, young women of colour, punk rockers, feminists, intellectuals, artists and activists. It really is, as their masthead proclaims, "for girls who get it."

Policies of Exclusion, Poverty & Health: Stories from the Front
Compiled by Chrystal Ocean (Wellbeing through Inclusion Socially & Economically, 2005)

We’ve all heard the statistic: one in five Canadian women is living in poverty. That's more than 2.8 million women. There are too many reasons why more women are poor than men. But what’s it like to be poor? For those of us lucky to live above the poverty line, it’s hard to imagine. We can read the reports or the research results. However, these documents are written by academics or policy makers who are often outside of the story.

As Lynda Laughlin has said, "Every woman has a story. Too few have a safe place to tell it." Thanks to the Wellbeing through Inclusion Socially & Economically (WISE) project, 21 women now have that safe place. This book contains their stories of what it really means to live below the poverty line, and also how and why it happens. There isn’t a lot of happiness in these pages, but readers will find an enormous amount of strength from women that society has tried (and failed) to beat down.

Young Women Work: Community Economic Development to Reduce Women's Poverty and Improve Income
Molly McCracken, Kate Dykman, Francine Parent and Ivy Lopez (Prairie Women’s Health Centre of Excellence, 2005)

Young women work -- in their homes, in our community, in schools, with other youth and in the labour force. But young women who live in poverty continue to find themselves unable to make our economy or society work for them. Struggling to stay in school, working for low wages, and lacking childcare, young women face many challenges. At risk of a future living in poverty, and possibly raising another generation to do the same, young women want to work to build a better future and community.

This participatory feminist research project sought to describe the barriers and opportunities for young women in the "new" economy, and outlines Community Economic Development approaches to preventing poverty among young women ages 15 to 24. The authors found that young women are ready and willing to participate in holistic programs that respect their cultural backgrounds, and build strong futures for themselves, their families and their communities.

This report is available online at www.pwhce.ca/youngwomenwork.htm

Women in Medicine: A Celebration of Their Work
Ted Grant and Sandy Carter (Firefly Books, 2004)

Many of us may believe that the history of women in medicine is a recent one, dating back perhaps a few hundred years. In actuality, the first known female physicians were in Egypt as early as 1300 BCE. It would take more than three thousand years, however, before Canada would see its first female physician, Dr. Emily Howard Stowe, and about another 150 years before women would make up the majority of the workers in the health care system. Grant and Carter’s book is a celebration of these women.

Through photographs we see images of women in all fields of medicine, illustrating the distance they have come and the progress they have made. The images reveal not only female physicians and surgeons, but also nurses, technologists, therapists, physicians’ assistants, researchers and volunteers, each of whom is vital and integral to a successful and well-rounded health care system.

Understanding Lumpectomy: A Treatment Guide for Breast Cancer
Rosalind Benedet and Mark C. Rounsaville (Addicus Books, 2003)

A common question women ask after getting a breast cancer diagnosis is, "What kind of treatment will I have?" For years the standard treatment was a mastectomy – the surgical removal of the breast. Now women have many options and may be asked by her surgeon to decide between a lumpectomy and a mastectomy. Given the large amounts of conflicting information available, this can be a daunting task. The importance of this book is that it provides women with a reference guide to understanding lumpectomy. The authors cover variations in diagnoses, treatment, adjuvant therapy, and radiation in plain language. Women reading this can then make informed decisions regarding their care.

Transitions Through the Perimenopausal Years: Demystifying the Journey
Lissa Zala, Andrea Swan and Jerilynn C. Prior (Trafford Publishing, 2004)

What is perimenopause? What are hot flashes? Why can’t I sleep at night? Is there sex after menopause? These are all questions too frequently heard from women who are leading up to and going through menopause. As the authors learned, women aren’t only looking for biological information, they also want to know how perimenopause will impact their daily lives.

Thankfully, women now have a resource to help "demystify the journey." Transitions, available in book, video and DVD formats, defines the terms of perimenopause and offers the most recent scientific findings on hormone therapy. Most importantly, the book is based on women’s own stories and concerns, and is written by women who have themselves made the journey.

Estrogen’s Storm Season: Stories of Perimenopause
Jerrilyn Prior (Centre for Menstrual Cycle and Ovulation Research, 2005)

Estrogen's Storm Season is an engaging and thoughtful account of the various struggles many women may experience with perimenopause. Prior teaches the essential facts of perimenopause through stories instead of cold medical diagrams and jargon. In so doing, she proves that complicated medical facts and debates may resonate more with women if they are embedded first in women's actual lives.

Now available

Postpartum Depression
A Guide for Front-line Health and Social Service Providers

by Lori E. Ross, Cindy-Lee Dennis, Emma Robertson Blackmore and Donna E. Stewart (Centre for Addiction and Mental Health)

A new guide for front-line health and social service providers who work with pregnant women or new mothers. Particularly useful for public health and other nurses, new moms’ group leaders, lactation consultants, midwives, doulas, family doctors or GPs and obstetrician-gynecologists.

The guide answers key questions that front-line workers may have about postpartum depression (PPD) and presents the most up-to-date research. The guide offers practical, usable advice based on that research, and on clinical experience. It also addresses issues of diversity and provides a uniquely Canadian perspective.

The guide includes information on:

  • Risk factors for developing PPD
  • Detection of and screening for PPD
  • Prevention
  • Assessment and referral
  • Treatment
  • Support for family members
  • Self-care for women

For more information, visit: http://www.camh.net/publications/publications_howtoorder.html or contact 1-800-661-1111.

Just released!

Primary Health Care Reform and Women: A Guide
From the National Coordinating Group on Health Care Reform and Women

  • Community-based
  • Integrated services
  • Access 24/7
  • Telehealth
  • Electronic health records
  • Alternative payment methods

Why are these women’s issues and what are the issues for women?

This new guide is intended to encourage debate about primary health care reform in Canada and why it is important to women.

Given that women are both the majority of the users of the health care system and the majority of health care providers, how do we ensure that reforms work for all women – no matter where we live, what our income levels, education, language or health issue, our sexual orientation or level of physical disability?

Women's Primary Health Care Needs
Women’s health needs are different from men’s, both as a result of differences in men’s and women’s bodies and as a result of the ways that women live, work, play and study.

Women's Lives
Women’s lives are different from those of men. Overall, women have less financial security and less social status than men, but more responsibility for caring for others. These differences affect our health, our use of the health care system and our ways of responding to the care we receive. If primary health care is going to be effective, it must be provided in ways that recognize that many women have limited resources but significant responsibilities. Primary health care must also recognize differences among women.

Women's Voices, Women's Experiences
Women have a great deal of experience in and with primary health care. However, women’s voices are hard to hear in current discussions and reforms and there is little indication that women’s views will be included in ongoing decisions about the organization and delivery of primary health care.

Read about these issues, and more, in this important new publication, funded through the Women's Health Contribution Program from the Bureau of Gender Analysis and Women’s Health.

To order a copy of the guide, or for more information contact:
Phone: 1-888-818-9172
Website: www.womenandhealthcarereform.ca