Nunatsiaq News
NEWS: Around the Arctic November 14, 2012 - 6:04 am

Pauktuutit publishes Inuit language sex-health word book

“It’s been in demand since we put it out there”

Tukisiviit? contains a wealth of useful sexual health terms in five dialects of the Inuit language.
Tukisiviit? contains a wealth of useful sexual health terms in five dialects of the Inuit language.

If you’re a health care provider who doesn’t speak Inuktitut or an interpreter struggling for the right medical term to use to explain, for example, the difference between chlamydia and gonorrhea, help is available.

Now you can now offer Inuktitut equivalents to English terms like HIV, AIDS, chlamydia and gonorrhea to Inuktitut-speaking patients.

That’s thanks to a book called “Tukisiviit?” or “Do You Understand Sexual Health?”

The book is part of a Pauktuutit Inuit Women of Canada project to meet the need for a sexual health glossary in the Inuit language, a need which was first raised at the October 2009 National Inuit Policy Forum on Sexual Health.

The 56 terms, available in five dialects, are now available in a hardcover book and online.

The booklet features 25 brightly-coloured pages that highlight seven different categories.

These include: the female anatomy, male anatomy, different sexually transmitted infections, five fluids that transmit sexually transmitted infections, testing (“male exam” and “female exam”), what to expect, treatment and prevention.

“It’s been in demand since we put it out there,” said Geri Bailey, manager of health policy and programs at Pauktuutit.

Bailey said the new glossary is important because before its publication few knew which sexual health terms were correct.

For example, HIV and AIDS were usually translated in the same way, when, in fact, they are different conditions.

The goal is for Inuit “to have a clear understanding of what their diagnosis is,” she said.

“Now they can be active partners in their own health,” Bailey added. 

However, the glossary only contains terms for sexual health as “sexual health is a priority, we want people to have the right information in their dialect.”

These dialects include the Nunavik Hudson, Nunavik Ungava, Nunavut, Nunatsiavut, and Western Arctic dialects as well as plain-language English explanations, such as “Birth Control: protects against pregnancy, not STIs. Always use a condom even if you are using birth control.”

Pauktuutit plans to hold regional events to make sure people across the North are aware of the book, especially doctors and nurses who can “start utilizing it.”

That’s because the lack of proper Inuit language terminology has resulted in fear, stigma and discrimination.

It can also affect how people understand their illness and treatment options, the introduction to the book says.

Tukisiviit? will be launched in Iqaluit Dec. 3 during Aboriginal AIDS Awareness Week.

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