Coming Together for Sexual Health

Coming Together for Sexual Health is a podcast that explores both the how of improving sexual health—the root structural problems we must address to make changes—and the why, sharing the stories of people who are impacted most directly. In Season 3, we grapple with disability, STIs, stigma, anti-Blackness, and more. Our podcast aims to provide nourishment and connection to people working in sexual health care. Join us!

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Season 3: Latest Episode

S3 Ep8: Monkeypox in California: A Personal Story and Public Health Perspective

Stephan Ferris, a Bay Area activist lawyer, received one of the first 40 reported diagnoses of monkeypox after attending a Pride celebration in San Francisco, California. Here, Ferris sits down with host, Tammy Kremer, and Dr. Akanksha Vaidya, a clinical fellow responding to the current health crisis, to share his experience and discuss the need for improving treatment accessibility and provider education concerning a monkeypox diagnosis.

This is a follow-up on an episode we put out on June 1st of this year with Dr. Ina Park at a very different stage of the spread of monkeypox. With the US and the World Health Organization declaring this a public health emergency, Ferris and Dr. Vaidya use their respective lenses to reflect on representation of this disease in the media, transmission, and the stigma associated with those who receive a diagnosis. As commercial labs begin to provide greater testing capacity, the group discusses improving messaging about limited vaccine supply and other treatment options for groups most vulnerable and individuals experiencing moderate symptoms.

Download the transcript of this episode.

Season 3

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Trigger Warning: This episode mentions suicide and suicidal ideation.

Courtney Brame, the founder of Something Positive for Positive People (SPFPP), sits down with guest-host Dr. Ina Park to discuss the ongoing need to foster spaces that destigmatize STI diagnoses. In the ninth year of his herpes (HSV-2) diagnosis, Courtney speaks on navigating life with the virus and what drove him to connect with people struggling with mental health issues as a result of their herpes status. What started as informally providing solidarity to those living with herpes, quickly became a podcast and platform for sharing the experiences of those battling societal stigma and self-shaming, creating pathways to disclosing their status and tools that can make waiting for a vaccine more manageable.

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Dante King, author of The 400-year Holocaust: White America’s Legal, Psychopathic, and Sociopathic Black Genocide – and the Revolt Against Critical Race Theory, sits down with guest host Duran Rutledge (capacity building and technical assistance trainer at CAPTC) to reflect on what it means to be a Black person in a country where the colonial legacy of anti-Blackness and conceptions of whiteness and white supremacy have engrained racism into our legal structures, healthcare system, and more.

King offers concrete examples of how these intergenerational and ongoing traumas show up, and examines the roles of empathy, re-education, and narrative in promoting transformation. This conversation illuminates the structures that reinforce America’s blatant anti-Blackness that need to be seen, but so often are not.

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Becca Schwartz, LCSW,speaks about Team Lily, a pregnancy clinic for people experiencing significant barriers to care located at Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital. We focus on trauma-informed care: how past trauma can show up for patients in the medical setting, ways providers can practice trauma-informed care, and how these issues present and are addressed in San Francisco and specifically at the Team Lily clinic. Note: this episode contains occasional gendered language when talking about pregnant people. We recognize that not all pregnant people identify as women.

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In this episode of Coming Together for Sexual Health we speak with Terrance Wilder and Nikole Trainor, two people who were intimately involved in PrEP Supports, a campaign launched by the San Francisco Department of Public Health in 2018. PrEP Supports was a community-engaged campaign that specifically focused on PrEP access and education in Black communities in San Francisco.

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This special episode features Dr. Ina Park discussing Monkeypox: what it is, what’s the hype, and how worried (hint: not very) she is about the spread. Note that we recorded on May 31, 2022. Check out the CDC’s website for up-to-date information about Monkeypox.

Follow Ina on Instagram and Twitter @inaparkmd for timely (and often entertaining) updates on sexual health. Check out Dr. Park’s book, Strange Bedfellows: Adventures in the Science, History, and Surprising Secrets of STDs.

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This episode of Coming Together for Sexual Health features the wonderful Jen Jackson, a disease intervention specialist and harm reductionist. Jen walks us through the history of harm reduction, the principles that guide the movement, and gives us some personal examples of disease intervention and harm reduction values in action. Listen in to learn how theories of harm reduction apply in myriad settings, and how a foundation in these theories is essential to providing effective sexual healthcare.

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Andrew Gurza is an award-winning Disability Awareness Consultant and the Chief Disability Officer and Co-founder of Bump’n, a sex toy company for and by disabled people. They have spoken all over the world on sex, disability and what it means to be a Queer Cripple. They are also the host of Disability After Dark: The Podcast Shining a Bright Light on Disability Stories which won a Canadian Podcast Award in 2021, a Queerty Award, and was chosen as an Honoree at the 2020 Webby Awards.

Join Andrew and Tammy to learn about how Andrew navigates the sexual healthcare system as someone who has complex disabilities.

Season 2

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We speak with Dr. Rosalyn Plotzker about her work with UCSF’s ANCRE Center, the world’s first clinic devoted to anal cancer prevention. Anal cancer incidence is on the rise despite it being associated with HPV, a highly preventable (and extremely common!) virus.

Roz takes us through her work with the clinic, anal cancer screening and risk factors, and debunks many of the stereotypes and stigmas surrounding anal cancer and its causes.

Want to chat with Roz directly? Email her: Rosalyn.Plotzker@ucsf.edu

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If you work in sexual health, you have probably had the experience of becoming the “sexpert” for your friends and family.

In this special episode we have gathered some (but by no means all!) of the questions Dr. Rosalyn Plotzker has received from her various circles to try and demystify at least some of these aspects of sexual health.

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We continue our conversation with Dr. Paul Nash, Associate Professor in Gerontology at USC.

In Part 2 of this discussion about ageism, host Duran Rutledge and Paul dive into the harmful stigma surrounding sex and aging, particularly for people at the intersections of various identities and life experiences.

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In this episode we talk with Dr. Paul Nash, Associate Professor in Gerontology at USC. His research spans over a decade and focuses on ageism, discrimination, sexual health, and the built environment. He partners with several non-profit organizations on his research into HIV and aging as well as ageism and intergenerational communication.

Paul currently serves as a Commissioner on the Los Angeles County Commission on HIV, and he consults with the World Health Organization on ageism. He is active in teaching and recently published the book, Critical Questions for Ageing Societies.

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We talk with anti-racist activist, Dante King. He’s worked with organizations like the San Francisco Metropolitan transportation agency and the San Francisco Department of Public Health to cultivate environments that are anti-racist and inclusive.

He discusses how capitalism reinforces racism, the creation of anti-blackness through policy, and the systems and structures that have led to white supremacist ideology.

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“Sex positivity” has become quite a buzzy phrase in sexual health and advocacy spaces in the last decade. But what does that mean in practice? Today we talk with JaDawn Wright, Deputy Director of the Pacific Aids Education training Center (PAETC), about just that. JaDawn provides capacity-building support to healthcare professionals. She says sex-positive environments can lead to better health outcomes and can help us each feel more seen “as our authentic selves.”

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Ana Delgado, CNM, is a Clinical Professor in the UC San Francisco Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Sciences, San Francisco General Hospital Division. Ana acts as the Assistant Director of Inpatient Obstetrics and Co-Director for Anti-Racism, Equity, Inclusion and Structural Change. Ana talks with us about racial inequities in healthcare, how structural racism permeates every facet of life, and why “race is always an issue for folks who are racialized.”

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Dr. Aisha Mays is a Family Physician who focuses on Adolescent Medicine. She is the Founder and Medical Director of the Dream Youth Clinic of Roots Community Health Center, in Oakland, California — a youth-led, youth-engaged adolescent clinic co-located within Oakland’s two youth shelters. Dr. Mays’ work centers on adolescent reproductive health, reproductive justice for highly vulnerable youth, and the health risks associated with childhood commercial sexual exploitation. Her research focuses on exploring reproductive justice barriers and supporting sexual health for youth.

On this episode, we talk with Dr. Mays about her important work.

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Dana Cropper, previously Director of Education at HealthHIV, recently stepped into the role of Director of the California Prevention Training Center, after Alice Gandelman’s retirement.

In this debut episode of Speaking Frankly season two, we talk with Dana about her new position, why Oprah and Sojourner Truth are two of her heroes, and why she thinks to reduce stigma, we must each engage in deep and ongoing self-reflection “about how we navigate through the world”.

Season 1

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On Jan 21, 2021, the FDA approved Cabenuva, the first once-monthly injectable HIV treatment for adults. Dr. Kelly Johnson, a fellow in infectious diseases and sexually transmitted infections at the University of California, San Francisco, and a physician at San Francisco General Hospital’s Ward 86, explains the implications of this new treatment and how it affects the 1.2 million Americans living with HIV.

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Dr. Monica Gandhi is an infectious disease physician and professor of medicine at UCSF, and the Medical Director of the Ward 86 clinic focused on HIV. She has become a trusted expert on COVID-19.

She talks with us about the vaccines already being used in the US, and the Johnson & Johnson vaccine that was submitted to the FDA for Emergency Use Authorization.

She explains the implications for the one-dose J & J vaccine and when we may finally get back to a little bit of normalcy.

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Dr. Ina Park talks about her new book, Strange Bedfellows, in which she uses science, humor and storytelling to share the untold stories of many common sexually transmitted infections.

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Congenital syphilis is up 900% in California since 2012. UC San Francisco’s Dr. Rosalyn Plotzker speaks with us about CS prevention and treatment and about the complex issues contributing to the spike, like systemic racism.

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Dr. George Rutherford, Professor of Epidemiology at UC San Francisco, talks with us about COVID-19, the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines and why anti-microbial resistance is the next public health threat.

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We continue our discussion with Lidia Carlton, Director of Community Education at Planned Parenthood Pasadena and San Gabriel Valley. In this episode she explains the social-emotional component of sex ed, and why sex ed is an ideal place to teach about race and ableism.

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Lidia Carlton, Director of Community Education at Planned Parenthood Pasadena and San Gabriel Valley, speaks with us about the California Healthy Youth Act, which mandates more robust and inclusive sex ed in California. She tells us about the positive results it’s yielded, but why some parents are still concerned about the new curriculum.

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Wanda Jackson, DISTC Trainer/Technical Assistance Specialist, has more than 30 years’ experience in the field of disease investigation and contact tracing. In this episode, she gives us a detailed look at the contact tracing process and explains why compassion, patience, and empathy are so valuable as we face this public health crisis.