Dyke HealthGirl's Night OUT
"When God thought up sex
One suspects he was joking..."

- Richard Maltby, Jr. & David Shire from Baby

Have you examined your breasts lately? Has somebody else?

Breast Self-Exam in ShowerO.K., so seeing the doctor isn't the most attractive prospect for the weekend. Rolling around with a beautiful woman is more your style, you say? What about the next weekend when you realize that she gave you an STD? Even worse -- what if you never realize she's transmitted anything to you and you wind up with Pelvic Inflammatory Disease? Yes, this is all so pleasant to read about -- but important.

Women who partner with women are at greater risk for Breast Cancer, PID and are at risk for STDs, no matter how you rationalize your fling from the night before.

1 But there is such a thing as lesbian health care and lucky for you, you live in New York where it's available and affordable at the Lesbian Health Program at the Community Health Project. Located on the second floor of the Lesbian & Gay Community Services Center, the clinic is run by volunteer Doctors, Doctor Assistants, Nurse Practitioners, RN's and trained laypeople who provide general medical and gynecological attention, STD prevention and screening, peer counseling and HIV/AIDS assessment for all women who sleep with women. The focus is on the education and empowerment of the women who pass through its doors. Embarrassing questions aren't asked while you're naked in the stirrups, and assumptions aren't made about your values or lifestyle. The object is to give you the tools you need to make informed decisions about your own life and behavior. On the first, third and fourth Saturdays of every month the CHP becomes a women-only space with music playing and health care at it's friendliest.

2 Attend to your mental and social health at Shades of Lavender, the multicultural center for lesbian and bisexual women and youth at the Brooklyn AIDS Task Force. Offering a radio, TV, VCR and comfortable chairs and couches -- complete with a lending library filled with books and videos -- Shades of Lavender resembles a big living room and furthers this relaxed attitude with its holistic approach to the bodies, minds and souls of the members of the lesbian and bisexual community in Brooklyn. An alternative to the bar scene, Shades of Lavender runs groups for writers, Jewish women and women of color, poetry nights and movie nights as well as HIV prevention, safe sex workshops and individual counseling. All medical services are through referal to the Brooklyn AIDS Task Force. You can even get a massage (for a small fee). Otherwise, it's all free. Amazingly, even though Shades is only staffed by two women, the center helps approximately 250 people per month through its various programs. Come be one of them!

Women to Women

3 Should you find yourself in need of treatment and support for HIV and AIDS, you can go to LHP or Shades or to the Lesbian AIDS Project at Gay Men's Health Crisis Its mission is to help queer women think of all aspects of their sexual health, as well as to provide individual support and treatment to lesbian and bisexual women with HIV and AIDS. The thinking is this: the virus is in the world and you are in the world; be smart about both of these facts. The project performs outreach in communities where women aren't "out" but are at risk, hosts HIV+ lesbian speakers, runs workshops to help sensitize health care providers to women who partner with women and produces a newsletter, bibliography, info packet and an extremely hot Safer Sex Handbook. Lesbians do get AIDS. Get the facts from the Lesbian AIDS Project.

4 It might hearten you to know that the NYC Department of Health even cares for you with its Office of Gay and Lesbian Health Concerns. Most of the Office's work goes on behind the health care scenes, like sponsoring other lesbian health organizations and giving slide presentations and literature to health care providers to make them more lesbian-senstive in the care they give to you, the patient.

It's up to you to get healthy and stay healthy, and all of these services are out there waiting for you. So what are you waiting for?

Where To Go:

Lesbian Health Program
Community Health Project
208 W 13th St (7th/8th)
212-675-3559
Appointment slots available: Mon-Wed 7pm-9pm
Walk-ins: Thurs evenings
All Women's clinic: 1st, 3rd, & 4th Saturdays of the month 11am-2pm

Shades of Lavender
470 Bergen St (Flatbush/5th), Brooklyn
718-622-2910
Mon-Fri 9am-5pm, Tue 3pm-6pm is closed space for the Youth Group only

Lesbian AIDS Project at GMHC
129 W 20th St (5th/6th)
212-337-3532

Office of Gay & Lesbian Health
NYC Department of Health
125 Worth St, Box 67
New York, New York 10013
212-788-4310
leshealth@aol.com



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