CIHR HIV/AIDS Community-Based Research


As the Government of Canada's agency for health research, CIHR provides leadership and direction for the research portion of the Federal Initiative to Address HIV/AIDS in Canada.

The HIV/AIDS Community-Based Research (CBR) efforts are led by the CIHR Institute of Infection and Immunity, supported by the CIHR Institute of Aboriginal Peoples' Health, and guided by the CIHR HIV/AIDS Research Advisory Committee (CHARAC).

History of the CIHR Community-Based Research Steering Committee

Between the years 2006-2015, the CIHR Community-Based Research (CBR) Steering Committee contributed greatly to the deployment of a decade of HIV CBR funding opportunities when most needed. Its members came from the academic sector across Canada, policy makers, emerging researchers, community-based researchers and most notably HIV leaders many of whom brought their lived experience and community liaison to the committee. A total of over 50 persons served on the committee over the years, supported by various CIHR staff members. The cordial and productive relationship between the committee members, the CIHR staff members and the CHARAC members is noteworthy. It was often mentioned by international observers how cohesive the HIV CBR movement was in Canada.

Some of the accomplishments of the Committee include helping guide the work of, and disseminate the results of the labour of, the Community-Based Research Facilitators (CBRFs, initially called Research Technical Assistants). The CBRF program was funded between 2004 and 2012. At least one member of the CBRFs in operation at a given time sat on the Committee. The committee acted as a liaison between the stakeholders reached by the CBRFs in their regions and the funding program. The committee was consulted on a number of significant items such as changes to the CIHR suite of funding tools, the imperative to support the Aboriginal Stream, and the need for Review of Ethics Boards that were created for, or highly attuned to, putting CBR principles in action on the ground and the need to safeguard the risk of individuals as well as communities.

The CBR Steering Committee made a strong case for the introduction of the "community CV" (2006) that helped applicant communities highlight non-academic accomplishments when applying to CIHR funding opportunities. The committee kept an eye on the HIV CBR application pressure and offered insights on the root causes for positive or negative changes. This constant vigilance of the community and academic communities was instrumental in tweaking the program along the way. At the 2006 XVI International AIDS Conference in Toronto, the committee, CBRFs and prominent CBR practitioners made a well-attended presentation titled "Community-based Research in Canada: Innovations and Partnerships to Improve Health Outcomes for People living with HIV and Communities at Risk" which set the tone of national CBR for years to come.

During its many years in operation, the Committee advised CHARAC and CIHR on emerging issues and necessary changes to the HIV CBR process. The lessons learned were shared across CIHR. Many ideas originally floated in the CBR Steering Committee continue to be significant in the current Implementation Science paradigm, for example, the need to support— financially and otherwise— communities and AIDS Service Organizations (ASOs) as partners in the drafting of CBR proposals, having Memoranda of Understanding, the need for Letters of Intent and other instruments. The importance of integrating graduate students as trainees in the HIV CBR proposals was often highlighted by this Committee. The Universities Without Walls eLearning program, a partnership between the Ontario HIV Treatment Network, Canadian Association for HIV Research and the CIHR, was originally conceived as a single "video project" at the heart of this Committee.

In 2008-2009, the Committee was involved in the evaluation of the HIV CBR program at CIHR. The Committee members often supported the outreach of the HIV CBR Program into various communities across the country. The Committee always made a strong case for the inclusion of one or more persons living with HIV and this group provided that appropriate mentorship.

CIHR, in discussion with the CBR Steering Committee, made a decision to incorporate the CBR Steering Committee mandate into that of CHARAC in 2015. The terms of reference and membership of CHARAC were changed to reflect the need to include CBR in CHARAC decision making. CIHR wants to thank the former members of the CBR Steering Committees over the years for their leadership and valuable contributions to the research enterprise.

CBR program

The CIHR HIV/AIDS Community-Based Research (CBR) Program supports partnerships between community leaders and researchers in carrying out research and capacity-building initiatives relevant to communities engaged in the fight against HIV/AIDS. Projects funded through the CBR program must have a partnership between a community-based organization and an academic partner.

Community leaders ensure that research will lead to practical and useful outcomes that will directly benefit the community, while researchers, coming from academia or other research institutions, contribute their research expertise in methodology, scientific rigour and supervision of future researchers.

What is community-based research?

Community-based research (CBR) is a collaborative approach to research that equitably involves all partners in the research process and recognizes the unique strengths that each brings. CBR begins with a research topic of importance to the community with the aim of combining knowledge and action for social change to improve community health and eliminate health disparities. CBR brings researchers together with members of the community to: identify the issues; collect, analyze and interpret the data; and decide how to use the results to inform policy, change practice and improve conditions in the community.

Funding and review

The CIHR HIV/AIDS CBR Program embraces the same values of methodological rigour and ethical review as other research approaches. Each proposal submitted to the program is evaluated under two main criteria with equal weight: potential impact and scientific merit.

The CIHR HIV/AIDS CBR Program funds research and capacity building through three funding mechanisms. Funding is available in two streams: Aboriginal and General (non-Aboriginal). CIHR's Initiative Community Support Program also provides planning and dissemination grants and travel awards to support developmental research and knowledge translation activities.

CBR Funding Opportunity Description Maximum Value / Year Maximum Duration Typical Launch frequency
CBR Catalyst Grant Short-term research grant seed funding $40,000 1 year Once per year
CBR Operating Grant Multi-year research grant funding $150,000 3 years Once per year
Collaborative Centres of HIV/AIDS Community-Based Research To build capacity within the CBR community, CIHR funds two CBR Collaborative Centres - one in the Aboriginal stream and one in the General stream. $300,000 5 years

What projects have been funded?

Information on projects previously funded under the CIHR HIV/AIDS CBR Program can be found by searching CIHR's Funding Decisions Database or browsing through CBR research outcome stories.

Resources for applicants

Potential applicants are encouraged to contact the relevant Collaborative Centre of HIV/AIDS Community-Based Research for information on support they can provide to community organizations interested in developing a CBR project:

Useful Links

Contact information

CIHR Contact Centre
Telephone: 613-954-1968
Toll Free: 1-888-603-4178

Officers are available Monday to Friday, 7:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. ET and until 8 p.m. ET on application deadline days.

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