Archive for the ‘Health Services’ Category

5 Reasons to Support Head & Hands’ Ça Marche Campaign!


ca marche pictures

It’s finally that time to put on your dancing shoes and join Head & Hands (H&H) for Ça Marche 2015. Together we will continue the dancing tradition we began back in 2008. You might ask yourself why you should dance for seven kilometers on a Sunday morning. Well, besides the fact that it’s a wonderful occasion to get in shape with this one of the kind intense cardio workout or that it’s a good way to send off the summer and welcome the fall,  Ça Marche supports our crucial services, which were accessed  almost 30, 000 times last year! Let’s explore some more reasons why you should participate in Ça Marche 2015:


1)Our medical services provide youth between the ages of 12-25 the necessary tools to make informed decisions. This past year, our health services were accessed by over 1200 youth, many of whom come to our clinic because lack of health insurance, financial resources, stigma, or discrimination prevent them from accessing services elsewhere. Our approach is non-judgmental, holistic and confidential — welcoming to each and every one of our clients!


2)When the rights to a life-saving drug like Daraprim, which is mostly used to treat immunodeficiencies such as AIDS, can be bought by one individual who can single-handedly raise its price from $13.50 to $750 a pill, the presence of NGOs and community organizations becomes that much more relevant. Head & Hands, like other community organizations, fills-in the gap. When you think about how the HIV/AIDS pandemic is still affecting an estimated 20,000 Quebecers, it is even more of a reason to take part in the Farha Foundation’s annual HIV/AIDS walk —  to not only raise awareness, but to help fund programs that are aimed at HIV prevention and harm-reduction like our health services.


3)This past year, over 300 people registered for the emergency food pantry — a 46% increase from the previous year!! During times of economic uncertainty, the demand for affordable food increases! Our food pantry is unique in Montreal because you don’t have to show ID or proof of address in order to access it, making it accessible to everyone who needs it!


4)The Street Work outreach program is the only one its kind in the bourough of Notre-Dame-De-Grâce (NDG) , and this year we’ve distributed over 6, 000 clean injection kits!


5)Our medical clinic runs Montreal’s only trans* health program for youth that uses an intake process based on informed consent, trusting each individual as the expert on their own experience rather than requiring a medical diagnosis of gender dysphoria to access hormone therapy.


And of course, there are so many more reasons to support us that we didn’t have room to include!


Please join us on Sunday, September 27, at le Parterre du Quartier des Spectacles for the Farha Foundation’s annual HIV/AIDS walk, Ça Marche 2015.


Thank you for supporting Head & Hands by donating HERE.


*French translation coming soon!

Ten Tips for Keeping your Vagina Healthy and Happy!


The vagina is an amazing sexual and reproductive organ. Most of the time vaginas are really good at taking care of themselves. Sometimes though, harmful bacteria and parasites are introduced into the vagina and its surrounding areas, which can result in unpleasant infections such as yeast, bacterial vaginosis (BV), urinary tract infections (UTIs), and sexually transmitted infections (STIs). Here are a few helpful tips to keep your vagina happy and healthy!

Health Services Coordinator Jos with a Happy and Healthy (albeit fabric) Vagina!

Health Services Coordinator Jos with a Happy and Healthy (albeit fabric) Vagina!

1) Wear cotton underwear. Avoid synthetic materials like polyester so your vagina can breathe.

2) Wash your hands. Remember to wash your hands before you insert a tampon or menstrual cup, before masturbating and/or having sex. Ask your partner(s)s to wash their hands before sex too.

3) Avoid getting soap inside your vagina. Soap can upset your vaginal flora, so best to wash your genitalia with just water.

4) Don’t douche. Douches often contain irritating perfumes and can flush out the flora that you need to maintain a healthy vagina. Douching can lead to an infection or help spread an infection farther into the reproductive system, so best to not do it.

5) Wipe from front to back after you pee. There can be harmful bacteria hanging around your bum, don’t bring it forward to your sensitive parts! Use the same logic when it comes to anal sex. If a penis, toy or finger has been in your bum, don’t put it in your vagina afterwards without washing it or putting a new condom on it.

6) Pee after sex. This helps to flush out any bacteria that could have entered the urethra during sex, helping to prevent UTIs. Drinking cranberry juice can help prevent UTIs as well.

7) Eat plain yoghurt! It contains active bacterial culture that is good for your vaginal health and helps to prevent yeast infections. It’s an especially good idea to eat yogurt (ideally without sugar) anytime you’re taking antibiotics because they can make you more prone to yeast infections. If you don’t eat yogurt, you can also get acidophilus in pill form at your local health food store.

8) Use a condom. Penises and shared sex toys can introduce harmful bacterias into the vagina, such as chlamydia and gonorrhea (and other STIs). Be safe, use a condom if you’re having penetrative sex. And make sure to get tested regularly.

9) Never leave a tampon in for longer than 6-8 hours. Leaving a tampon in for too long can result in toxic shock syndrome (TSS), which can be fatal. Avoid sleeping with tampons in. Consider using pads or menstrual cups (like the Keeper or Divacup) instead. Menstrual cups can be left in for up to 12 hours.

10) Get to know your vagina! Look at it with a mirror. Get to know how it looks, smells and tastes. It’s normal for your vagina to have a slight odour and some discharge. Your discharge will change somewhat throughout your menstrual cycle and when you are sexually aroused. While you’re at it, get to know your menstrual cycle too (you can track it on a calendar, or there are lots of free period apps now for smart phones!). Pay attention to what’s normal for you, that way if ever something is out of the ordinary (like increased discharge, a funny smell, itchiness or irritation, pain, bumps/sores/rashes, abnormal bleeding and/or a late period), you’ll know to get it checked out.

Take a few minutes to support trans rights in Québec!


Trans Rights March

[Image from this past summer’s Trans Rights March in Montreal]


About a year ago, the Québec government brought forward a law with some very exciting promises for trans rights… and we waited a year for the regulations needed to make that law an on-the-ground reality.

Those (proposed) regulations are now here, and… they suck.  They include several requirements that would place trans folks seeking to legally change their name at risk of serious harm.  This is not just disappointing – after so much promise, and such a long wait, it is infuriating.

GOOD NEWS: We can influence the politicians involved to change this regulation!  We can make it better!!  The H&H team has just sent letters to several of the ministers involved, and we’re asking you to do the same.

BONUS: It’s super easy, thanks to some amazing tools created by a collective of awesome trans activists (the same wonderful folks who wrote that analysis of the proposed regulations, linked above)!  Follow these links to download a template letter, as well as a list of contact details for all the government representatives working on this law.

You can send letters by mail or email!  When you do, please shoot a quick message to our friends at the Centre for Gender Advocacy ( to let them know what you’ve done in support of this important campaign.



Clinic Closure Dates

Dear clinic patients,
Please note that there will be a 3 week clinic hiatus over the winter break. The last clinic of the year will be held on Thursday, December 11th and then clinics will resume on Tuesday, January 6th 2015. If you need to see the doctor before the new year, make sure to come to the clinic before the holiday closure! Please note that we are a drop-in clinic and we cannot renew prescriptions without a doctor’s visit. For more information about our clinic or to check the calendar, visit our website or call 514 481-0277.
All of our other programs and services will be closed from Monday, December 22nd through January 5th, inclusive.
Jos and Dr. Tellier


H&H chats CA MARCHE with Parents at the YPP!



This week, Head & Hands headed over to the Young Parents Program (YPP) to see what has motivated some of the program’s participants to walk in Ca Marche.

Today at the YPP, parents and kids are in full Ca Marche prep-mode, getting their swag ready for the walk.

For a variety of reasons, the youth we spoke to preferred to keep their identities confidential, but their touching remarks attest to the importance of supporting Head & Hands’ unique youth health services through events like Ca Marche, which raises funds and awareness to support many Montreal groups working on research, prevention, and treatment of HIV/AIDS.


The parents were asked why they were walking in Ca Marche?, and why they attended Head & Hands’ Young Parents Program?

One parent said that her mother had been living with AIDS for 19 years now, so it was an issue that she has been affected by her whole life. Meanwhile, the YPP has been a sanctuary of sorts for her and many others: “It lets me get out of the house, helps to not be alone. And my kids can hang out with the other English kids, which is more rare at daycare”.

Another participant chimed in: “YPP broke my isolation from Elizabeth House [a private rehabilitation centre for young mothers]. You know, when I was there, I couldn’t talk to anyone. I felt alone. The YPP helped change that, and I’ve been coming since mid-december of last year!”

Another parent was adamant about her show of solidarity: “I know girls who have worked the streets, and have been infected by HIV. I’ve been there myself, and I’m lucky to have come out clean”.

The last parent we talked spoke courageously and with hope, despite fighting to hold back the tears. Someone close to her heart – a sibling – contracted HIV a few years back.

“It’s very taboo. I mean, she lives a normal life. It’s easier in 2014 than it was back then, but it’s hard to know someone you love has it.”

This parent has been affiliated with Head & Hands on and off for a long time. When she became pregnant and was afraid to tell her parents, she came to H&H. We proposed attending YPP, and though at first she was skeptical because she thought it was your average child protection agency, she quickly turned around when she started attending.

“I feel depression, you know. It’s hard getting off the couch sometimes. But it’s energizing for me to come here to the center to get things off my mind, and hang out with the other parents”

By now, she’s so confident that YPP is a great program for youth in her position that she even brought her roommate, who was attending YPP for the first time that day.

Our last parent left us with some uplifting words about why she is dancing in Ca Marche: “I’m going to dance because dancing makes me feel good! You dance to celebrate everything about who you are”.


And with those words, we at Head & Hands invite you once more to COME DANCE with us tomorrow at Ca Marche, or DONATE right HERE!



If you’d like to donate directly to the YPP, please contact Allyson (

Painless Pee Tests for Penises


Do you have a penis? Does getting tested for STIs (sexually transmitted infections) make you nervous? In case you didn’t know, Head & Hands does urine testing (not a urethral swab) for chlamydia and gonorrhea. It’s painless! All you have to do is pee in a cup!

Chlamydia and gonorrhea are two of the most common STIs out there, so if you’ve ever had unprotected oral, anal or vaginal sex you’re at risk. Youth under 25 are especially at risk.

Symptoms for people with penises include burning when you pee, penile and/or anal discharge, itching of the penis and/or testicular pain. But here’s the thing – only 50% of infected people experience these symptoms, so the only way to know for sure is to get tested. Both chlamydia and gonorrhea are easily treated with antibiotics when someone tests positive. Knowing your status can help you protect yourself and your sexual partners. While you’re at it you can also get tested for HIV, syphilis and hepatitis B with a simple blood test.

If you’re between the ages of 12-25, come on down to the medical clinic at Head & Hands and give us a urine sample!




#TBT: MTL’s First Trans* Rights March


trans march 1

Today on the blog, we’re looking back to August 10, when almost 400 members and allies of Montreal’s trans* community took to the streets to demonstrate our strength as a community and call upon the Quebec government to follow through on its commitments towards respecting trans* rights.  This powerful event was  organized by the collectif Participes, a recently-formed group of dedicated, creative, and inspiring trans* youth!

Last year, the government passed a law promising to alleviate the discriminatory barriers faced by trans* people who want to legally register their gender.  Almost a year later,  all clauses of this law have been put into action except the ones dealing with trans* rights.  Meanwhile, social and institutional discrimination against trans* people – from barriers to accessing hormone therapy to ongoing violence – remain widespread.  This article provides a more detailed overview of the many reasons we all gathered to march last month.

Here at Head & Hands, we were thrilled to participate in this historic action as part of our ongoing work to support trans* rights.  Did you know that our medical clinic runs Montreal’s only trans* health program for youth that uses an intake process based on informed consent, trusting each individual as the expert on their own experience rather than requiring a medical diagnosis of gender dysphoria to access hormone therapy? We also provide extensive free counseling to trans* youth and their families, and incorporate trans*-positivity into our sexual health education workshops through the Sense project!

Also!  Did you know that Head & Hands’ health services receive no government funding??  We rely on individual and community support to keep these services going, and we’re mobilizing this month to gather donations as part of our Ca Marche campaign!  If you’d like to join us and dance 7km through downtown Montreal on September 27th,  follow THIS link.  And of course, you can sponsor us directly by following THIS one!

Finally, some more rad pics from the day of the march…!

trans march 2 trans march 4 trans march 5




Diaphragms are back, and better than ever!

Health services coordinator Jos shows the Caya diaphragm and spermicide!

Jos with Caya and contragel

As part two in our series about barrier contraceptives (see our March post about the Femcap), we’re excited to announce that Head & Hands is now distributing the CAYA diaphragm! The CAYA diaphragm has recently been approved for sale in Canada, so if you`re looking for hormone-free and user controlled birth control, check it out! When used in conjunction with contragel (aka Cayagel), the CAYA diaphragm works as a mechanical barrier to block sperm from entering the cervix during vaginal intercourse. As with any barrier device, its effectiveness depends on how dedicated you are to using it properly. When used correctly, the CAYA diaphragm is as effective at preventing pregnancies as condoms. Unlike older diaphragm models, you don’t need to be fitted by a doctor because one size fits most users. It’s also made out of durable silicone and can be used for two years.

Caya Diaphragm!

Caya Diaphragm!

Interested? You can purchase a CAYA diaphragm (sold at cost) from Head & Hands for $60. Tubes of contragel are available as well for 20$. Check out the CAYA website for more info and insertion videos. To purchase a diaphragm from us or for more info, contact our Health Services Coordinator, Jos, at (514) 481-0277 or You can also just swing by our office at 5833 Sherbrooke West! Not in Montreal? Don’t worry, you can order the CAYA online via Anarres Health (they are also the Canadian distributor for the Femcap)!

Dental Dams Demystified


Dental dams–what have you heard about them? They’re great for oral sex, whether your mouth is heading for a vulva or an anus, and provide a barrier to bodily fluids and skin-to-skin STI transmission. We think everyone should know about them and have the choice to use them!

Estelle, Stagiaire in Sexology from UQAM, says that she wanted to create these how-to videos to make this barrier method more accessible to youth. Despite the fact that dental dams are rarely discussed and even more rarely available, it’s very easy to make one with an external condom! These videos bring a little humor to sex ed, making it a little more pleasant and less stressful.

Centraide honours Dr. T for outstanding Citizen Engagement

Winner Dr. Tellier, surrounded by Head & Hands staff, stand in  clinic waiting room.

Dr. Tellier with his gorgeous award and some very excited Head & Hands staff members

This April, we headed to the Montreal Science Centre to celebrate our very own Dr. Tellier, winner of Centraide’s prestigious Citizen Engagement Award! Centraide presented Dr. T with a beautiful trophy, and Head & Hands with a $10, 000 cheque. And they made a totally awesome video about Head & Hands and Dr. T!

For those of you who know Dr. T, this award likely doesn’t come as a surprise. For over 30 years, Dr. T has tirelessly provided front-line health services to Montreal’s most marginalized young people, both at Head & Hands, and, on a few occasions, in the streets, bars, and raves of Montreal’s Gay Village.  We estimate that Dr. T has treated more than 20, 000 youth in our clinic over the years.

Internationally renowned as a champion of LGBTQ and youth health, Dr. T has mentored countless medical residents, and has presented at numerous conferences on his non-judgemental, harm-reductive, and inclusive approach to medicine.


Congrats, Dr. T!