The country’s first com-prehensive lesbian health strategy was launched to a sell-out crowd on Wednesday night at In The Pink, an event which marked the beginning of a new era of openness to women’s health issues, says ACON’s lesbian and same-sex-attracted women’s health project officer, Siri May.

Dozens of supportive women, health workers and academics turned out on Wednesday night to launch Turning Point, the long anticipated lesbian health strategy.

Spanning three years, the strategy provides extensive information on health issues affecting same-sex attracted women, including drug abuse and STIs. Most importantly though, the strategy will help combat the ongoing invisibility of women in the health system, May said.

For us it was quite unprecedented in terms of our lesbian health work. We haven’t been able to do things on that scale before, so it was really heartening, May told Sydney Star Observer.

After working on the document for so long, it was really great to see other people’s interpretation of it and see what it meant to so many facets of our community. People are enthusiastic and positive and inspired by it, so on both a personal and a professional level, the feedback has been really overwhelming.

The launch only marks the beginning. May will now turn her focus towards the plan’s implementation.

It is such an amazing opportunity to engage with a document that outlines health concerns that are relevant to us, so we take responsibility for our own health and wellbeing while at the same time advocating for greater visibility and accountability in mainstream settings, she said.

It is about making sure that you can walk into a doctor and say, -˜Yeah, I am in a lesbian relationship and I know what that means for my health’ without being scared. To make that happen, implementation will now be the key focus for us.

The strategy will be adopted by AIDS Council branches around the country. An external advisory committee will also be set up to assist in mainstream implementation, including an audit of the Royal College of General Practice to ensure an adequate knowledge of lesbian health issues and acceptance.

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