The Rainbow Road to Inclusive Healthcare: Breaking Barriers for the LGBTQ+ Community
With the goal of breaking the barriers queer and trans folk face when seeking healthcare, Freddie launched in 2020, born out of the need to make HIV prevention accessible to the 2SLGBTQIA+ community. Freddie functions as a telehealth company, and was named to serve the community, with a subtle homage to Freddie Mercury to honour the history of the HIV movement.
Standing in the fight against HIV, is PrEP or Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis, a daily pill that is up to 99% effective at preventing the transmission of the virus. PrEP can be taken by anyone with an elevated risk for HIV transmission, regardless of sexual identity or gender. What exactly does Freddie do? Freddie has become Canada’s largest HIV PrEP provider, with over 6700 active patients, and works to provide free or low cost PrEP to patients.
This nods towards the changing attitudes and progressive conversations surrounding the community and HIV over the years. “Besides all of the data, simply having the opportunity to speak openly about PrEP, sexual health, and harm reduction on a national scale is a very meaningful opportunity for us,” Freddie says. This highlights the importance of education and how the fight against stigma is vital in prevention efforts.
Freddie also takes an active part outside of healthcare, and is a sponsor and participant in other parts of the 2SLGBTQIA+ community, such as queer entertainment and hosting drag shows. “We aim to spend less of our marketing dollars on cishet platforms like Meta and Google, and give it back to the community where possible,” Freddie says. They believe in reinvesting capital back into the community when possible, not only to get the word about PrEP out, but that directly contributing to the community is the best way to uplift everyone.
How can one access PrEP through Freddie? After visiting goFreddie.com and booking a free phone appointment with an expert, you will get some lab testing done to confirm your HIV status, in which PrEP can be discreetly delivered to your door!
As students, Freddie has some suggestions on how we can fight misinformation in our own spaces. Educating ourselves and reading up on free resources –such as catie.ca– can break predisposed myths and outdated thoughts others may have. Similarly, Freddie advocates for challenging stigmatizing language and how the use of words like “clean” and “dirty” can promote shame around the topic. And finally, they encourage getting involved and volunteering in local communities and organizations to take a hands-on role in this fight.