Population Size Estimates Project: Deepening Our Knowledge to Provide Better Services

The BC Centre for Disease Control (BCCDC) has partnered with a number of key provincial stakeholders — including PAN and the BC Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS — and has contracted the Centre for Global Public Health (CGPH) at the University of Manitoba to develop population size estimates for key populations: men who have sex with men (MSM); people who use injection drugs (PWID); and sex workers affected by HIV and Hepatitis C within the 5 regional health authorities in British Columbia. These population estimates will inform organizational, regional and provincial level HIV and Hepatitis C program planning, implementation and evaluation to achieve the objectives outlined in the framework: From Hope to Health: Towards an AIDS-free generation.

This is important work. We know that these populations are disproportionately impacted by HIV and HCV in our province. What we don’t know is how many people there are in each of these priority populations across the province as a whole, regardless of their HIV or HCV status and where they live. Because we don’t understand the ‘total population size’ for these populations we are not able to adequately understand the HIV and HCV epidemics and plan services and programs for these groups of people.

The population size estimates project will involve:

  • Reviewing the literature and work that has already been done to estimate the sizes of key populations including people who inject drugs, men having sex with other men, and sex workers in BC.
  • Engaging with key stakeholders, including community-based organizations, to use their in-depth knowledge of their regions and any grey literature they may have to understand where these key populations are living across the province.
  • Developing size estimates, based on the above review, for the key populations, using the currently available information, across the five regional health authorities within BC.
  • Conducting a critical analysis of the size estimation approaches used in BC to date which will highlight the limitations of the key population size estimates and provide recommendations for approaches, including the possibility of primary data collection, to develop more robust size estimates for key population.
  • Sharing back findings to key stakeholders and representatives from the key populations and allow space and time for discussion to reach an agreed upon process and accompanying methods to gather the data needed to develop more comprehensive population size estimates for these populations (this work will be done in a second phase of this project).

It is the intention of this process to engage community-based organizations and representatives from the key populations during this process. The population size estimates will be accessible to everyone across the province and will be a helpful tool for community-based organizations when planning, implementing and evaluating programs and services. The team wants to make sure that we are reaching the right people in the right places and providing appropriate and useful services and this is one tool that will help us do this.

For more information please contact Annelies Becu, HIV Project Coordinator at the BC Centre for Disease Control: Annelies.Becu@bccdc.ca