From CWGHR to realize: A Coming of Age Story

By Tamtcy-pic-croppedmy C. Yates

“So what organization do you represent?”

“CWGHR,” I responded to my new friend at the 2016 International AIDS Conference in Durban, South Africa.  I pronounce our acronym like, “Quigger.”

“Quitter?”

“No, CWGHR.”

“Oh, I’ve never heard of Quitter.”

“… that’s because the name is actually, CWGHR”.

Picture it … Quebec City, 1998, thirty people with diverse interests, identities and professions meet to discuss the idea of HIV and rehabilitation for the first time. All were curious, but unsure of the connection between rehabilitation and HIV prevention, treatment, care and support and the role they could play. There the Canadian Working Group on HIV and Rehabilitation (CWGHR) was born! As people were no longer expecting to die of AIDS, this group of pioneers could see that rehabilitation – in a broad sense – was key to enabling people living with HIV to not only survive, but also thrive.

Mots clés :

We need to address the unique and complex issues of Indigenous people living with HIV

By Cécile Kazatchkine and Sandra Ka Hon Chu

cecile-k-2SANDRA_HI_RES- croppedIndigenous people in Canada are disproportionately affected by HIV, representing 10.8 per cent of new HIV infections and 9.1 per cent of people living with HIV in Canada.[1]  In Saskatchewan alone, the number of Indigenous people living with HIV is around twice the national average and the highest in Canada and “one of the few places in the industrialized world where people are still dying from AIDS and HIV.”

Lack of access to HIV treatment and care among other complex factors contributes to these alarming rates: in many rural or remote areas, HIV-specific services are simply not available, or the small size of the community creates concerns around confidentiality for those accessing care. Indigenous people in Canada — many of whom are surviving a legacy of colonization and the intergenerational effects of residential schools — continue to experience systemic discrimination and extremely high rates of incarceration. In this context, the criminalization of HIV non-disclosure may be perceived as yet another form of institutionalized violence and discrimination, amplifying the negative impact of the HIV epidemic on Indigenous communities.

La Déclaration de consensus canadien. Appuyez-la. Utilisez-la. C’est ce que j’ai fait et voici pourquoi.

Glenn BetteridgePar Glenn Betteridge

Plusieurs d’entre vous ont possiblement observé les fluctuations qui se produisent dans le mouvement communautaire, au gré des percées médicales et scientifiques, des priorités, du militantisme communautaire ainsi que des forces plus globales d’ordre politique, social et économique. Depuis plus de vingt ans que je travaille dans le milieu communautaire et y fais du bénévolat, je cherche à m’ancrer dans quelques fondements bien solides, pour donner une base stable à mon travail. Le lien essentiel entre la santé et les droits humains. La nécessité de fonder les politiques, programmes et services sur les données probantes et l’expérience vécue. De même que l’engagement à la justice sociale et une attention sérieuse aux voix des personnes les plus touchées. C’est pourquoi j’ai signé et appuyé la Déclaration de consensus canadien sur les bienfaits de santé et de prévention associés au dépistage du VIH et aux médicaments antirétroviraux contre le VIH. La Déclaration de consensus mise sur ces mêmes fondements afin de jeter les bases d’une réponse à l’épidémie du VIH qui soit exhaustive, holistique et dirigée par la communauté alliant le traitement et la prévention du VIH ainsi que la santé et les droits de la personne.

Indigenous Youth Leaders are Taking Action on HIV in their Communities!

By Sarah Flicker and the Native Youth Sexual Health Network

Group shot

Taking Action II is a community-based action research project about building and supporting Indigenous youth leadership in the HIV/AIDS movement.  We are a group of Indigenous youth leaders, Indigenous community-based organizations and university-based researchers. We wanted to create awareness around HIV, sexual health, and decolonization in First Nations, Métis, and Inuit communities across Turtle Island (also known as Canada).

In Taking Action I, we worked with over 100 youth in six Indigenous communities across Canada to make art about the links between HIV and colonization. We did this as a way of broadening the conversations about HIV – to move away from the individual shame-and-blame discourse. We wanted to help communities understand and respond back to all the structural factors that have conspired to make them vulnerable to HIV: racism, poverty, land theft, residential schools, loss of language/culture, epidemics of addiction, the Sixties Scoop (the practice of taking Indigenous children and placing them in foster homes beginning in the 1960s) and ongoing child welfare involvement, incarceration, etc. Youth created a lot of amazing art that took up these themes. They loved our workshops and asked for more opportunities to get together with youth from other communities.

How intimate partner violence affects women living with HIV

By Sandra Ka Hon Chu

SANDRA_HI_RES- croppedA global study released last year revealed alarming figures concerning women living with HIV and violence. Among 945 women living with HIV from 94 countries who participated in the study, 89 per cent reported having experienced or feared violence before, since and/or because of their HIV diagnosis. Violence they experienced was reported to be higher after HIV diagnosis from their intimate partner and others in their social network. [1]The troubling nexus between HIV and gender-based violence spurred the Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network, HIV & AIDS Legal Clinic Ontario and METRAC to produce a legal information guide for women living with HIV who are facing — or at risk of — “intimate partner violence” — that is, physical, sexual or psychological harm from a current or former partner or spouse.

In addition to being an exceedingly common experience among women living with HIV, intimate partner violence and HIV are both stigmatized, isolating people who are affected. Intimate partner violence also increases women’s vulnerability to HIV. Women who have violent partners are more likely to have forced sex, are less likely to negotiate condom use, and are more likely to be abused when they insist on condom use— which poses greater risks of HIV transmission.