CIHR HIV/AIDS Community-Based Research Program Outcome Stories

Since 2004, CIHR's HIV/AIDS Community-Based Research (CBR) Program has awarded over one hundred grants. Below are a few 'outcome stories' describing the results of selected CBR operating and catalyst grants. 

Project: The spectrum of HIV/AIDS services in Nunavik
Principal Investigator: Paul Brassard
Funding: Community-Based Research Program: Catalyst Grant
Date: April 2010-March 2012

The prevalence of HIV/AIDS is increasing in Nunavik, and Inuit and aboriginal community members are overrepresented in HIV/AIDS statistics in Canada. To address this issue, it is important to determine the HIV/AIDS services that are currently available and to understand the needs, issues and challenges associated with HIV/AIDS service provision in these communities.

The research team led by Dr. Brassard conducted interviews concerning sexually transmitted infection issues such as confidentiality, education, training and stigma with 15 community members in both Kuujjuaq and Puvirnituk. Service providers such as midwives, nurses, physicians, administrators and social workers were also interviewed. The information gathered was assessed as it relates to HIV/AIDS sectors such as awareness, identification and referral of at-risk groups, screening, laboratory processing, case management, records, surveillance and policy.

The findings of the study along with recommendations have been summarized in a report that has been distributed to the Nunavik health board. It is expected that the recommendations will influence those involved in providing HIV/AIDS services in Nunavik and other Inuit and aboriginial communities.

Project: Evaluation of "Sharing Together… for Life" : A skill building program by and for women living with HIV on the heavy issue of disclosure
Principal Investigator: Joanne Otis
Funding: Community-Based Research Program: Operating Grant
Date: April 2008-March 2011

The purpose of the community-based research led by Dr. Otis was to evaluate the effectiveness of an intervention program called "Sharing Together… for Life" that had been developed to empower women living with HIV in Montreal to disclose their HIV status.

Over 2009-2010, the program was delivered by 13 intervention workers and 7 volunteers (women living with HIV). Province-wide evaluation of the program involved the participation of women living with HIV, community agencies, health and social service institutions and researchers and involved self-administered questionnaires, plenary evaluation sessions, analysis of intervention workers' journals, and shared assessment groups.

Research results showed that the program strengthened participants' ability to take action with regard to disclosure and enhanced their perception of control over their lives. Lessons were also learned about how best to  implement such programs outside of major metropolitan areas and in different socio-cultural contexts.

In the longer term, this research program may benefit other women living with HIV, given the tools that were developed (a participant's manual and a moderator's manual in both French and English) and with the work that the research team and its partners began in 2010 to culturally adapt the "Sharing Together… for Life" program to the lives of women living with HIV in Mali.

Project: Saddle Lake sexual health project
Principal Investigator: Dionne Gesink
Funding: Community-Based Research Program: Catalyst Grant
Date: April 2011 to March 2013

Socio-cultural factors play an important role in HIV transmission but are poorly understood for First Nations communities.  Researchers from the Saddle Lake Cree Nation and the University of Toronto worked together to identify these factors using a novel approach in line with Cree tradition and culture, qualitative methods, and community based research principles.

Cree ceremony, teachings, ways of knowing and communicating were combined with in-depth, semi-structured interviews with key community informants, Elders, and community members to identify the socio-cultural factors impacting sexual health and HIV in the community. 

This research process and approach has begun to restore the faith of the community in the benefits of research, created a safe space to speak about a sensitive topic, and opened community dialogue on sexual health and HIV. The knowledge gained through this project formed the basis of a successful CIHR CBPR/HIV operating grant entitled "Restoring Health in Our Community". This next grant will support the development and piloting of a community-led HIV intervention encompassing Cree traditions and values.

Project: A Small-Group Intervention to Reduce HIV Sexual Transmission Risk Behaviour Among HIV-Positive Men Who Have Sex With Men
Principal Investigator: Trevor Hart
Funding: Community-Based Research Program: Operating Grant
Date: April 2009-March 2011

Dr. Hart and a research team comprised of university-based and community-based researchers examined the effectiveness of an intervention called Gay Poz Sex aimed at reducing risk behaviour for the sexual transmission of HIV in HIV-positive MSM. Seven groups of 6-8 HIV-positive MSM attended seven Gay Poz Sex sessions that were facilitated by HIV+ gay men who had been trained in a type of counselling called motivational interviewing. To avoid exposing participants to legal risk, pseudonyms were used for all participants, and participants were encouraged not to disclose the names or contact information of any of their sexual partners.

To determine the effectiveness of the sessions, participants were assessed via interviews and self-reporting at the start (baseline), at the end, and three months after the sessions finished. There was a reduction, from 56% at baseline to 36% at 3-month follow-up, in the proportion of men engaging in unprotected anal intercourse with partners of HIV-negative or unknown HIV status.

The results of this study demonstrate that Gay Poz Sex sessions were feasible to administer at an AIDS service organization. In addition, the promising reductions in unprotected anal intercourse form the basis for a future randomized control trial.

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