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What is the YSMENA Study?
The Youth Sexual Health and HIV/STI Prevention in Middle Eastern and North African Communities (YSMENA) is the first community-based research program in Canada to center the voices of diaspora MENA youth. YSMENA is a peer-led research program that addresses gaps in knowledge and explores experiences and perceptions of sexual health, HIV and other STIs of MENA youth in Canada.
The central objectives of the study are:
1. To understand how the social environments and relationships of MENA youth in the contexts of their homes, schools, and communities, shape their identities and influence their sexual health.
2. To engage in developmental research that builds community and youth capacity in knowledge generation and sexual health
3. To bridge existing gaps in the literature that apply to the MENA community and amass evidence to inform future health programming and policy
4. To engage youth participants in designing sexual health interventions that can inform relevant programming and planning
Our goal is to capture the diverse voices of MENA youth across Canada from various communities, including youth who use drugs, gay and bisexual cis men who have sex with men (MSM), transgender youth, cis lesbian and bisexual women, cis heterosexual women and men, and youth from newcomer and refugee communities.
What is MENA?
MENA is an acronym which refers to the Middle East and North Africa.
M – Middle
E – East
N – North
A – Africa
It is important to define the term ‘MENA’, and to acknowledge the colonial history of the term ‘Middle East’ that was coined by British colonists. Today, the term ‘Middle East and North Africa’ or MENA is used by international organizations such as the UN to refer to 23 countries in the region who share common socio-historic, linguistic, and religious characteristics such as Algeria, Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco, Palestine, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Tunisia, United Arab Emirates (UAE), Yemen and more.
The Canadian census uses the terms Arab and West Asian to refer to two distinct groups.
For the purposes of the YSMENA study, the term MENA is used to refer to first or second generation diaspora youth in Canada whose heritage lies among one or more of the countries in the MENA region.