5 Questions with Andrea Langlois, PAN’s Director of Community-Based Research

Andrea is a former staff member of PAN.

Andrea LangloisAndrea Langlois was PAN’s Director of Community-Based Research. 


What first piqued your interest in HIV research?

Previous to working at PAN, I enjoyed a 6 year stint at AIDS Vancouver Island (AVI) as their Manager of Communications, Community Relations and Research. While in that role, I learned that when communicating about the organization’s work to the community and media, it was important to include more formal kinds of evidence alongside the knowledge gathered within the organization. Because of the large number of partnership requests coming to the organization from university researchers, I also became very passionate about ensuring that research moving forward was also aligned with the research needs of community organizations and people living with HIV/AIDS. So, my interest in HIV research really came about because I was interested in how research could be used to have impact and help to create changes at the personal, organizational, and community levels.

How is your research applicable in the “real world”?

I sometimes think about the work I do as being about building bridges – bridges between university-based researchers, people with lived experience, community leaders, policy makers and community organizations. The research that we conduct at PAN, or that we assist communities to develop, always starts in the “real world” with a community-identified need for more information. Because it starts with a community-identified priority, it’s grounded in the realities of local issues, programs and policy and , most importantly, in people’s experiences and knowledge. For example, I’ve been working with a team both in BC and nationally, to implement the People Living with HIV Stigma Index locally. The results of this community-based research project will be used build a case for improving policies, programs, and will model how to implement the best-practices of the greater and meaningful involvement of people living with HIV/AIDS (GIPA/MIPA) by putting people living with HIV at the center of the process.

How is the community involved in your research?

One question that often comes forward in community-based research is: Who is community? In my mind, the “community” in HIV/AIDS research is firstly people living with or affected by HIV/AIDS, the organizations who offer services, and can include clinicians and policy makers as well. And, I’ve found that many of the academics who work in HIV community based research also tend to have strong ties with, and long histories in, the HIV movement. The research that I am currently involved in at PAN, as well as the processes that I help facilitate to identify new research priorities, always includes everyone from the above list at the table and respects multiple forms of knowledge, from experiential knowledge, to indigenous knowledge and academic knowledge.

If you had unlimited funds, which areas of research would you invest in?

If I keep my response within the field of health research, I have a strong interest in emerging research that may offer hope for people who struggle with addictions, depression, trauma, or end of life anxiety. These are challenges that are often experienced by people living with HIV/AIDS and for which we don’t currently have enough effective treatments or services to help people who need it. If I had unlimited funds, I would invest in the work of the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies and their Canadian chapter, and their promising research with the potential to help people who struggle with these conditions.

If you were able to choose, what is the natural talent you’d like to be gifted with and why?

I think that if I were able to choose a talent I’d love to be one of those people who speaks several languages. I love speaking French and Spanish, and part of the joy I experience traveling is in communicating with people from other places. I’d would love to experience even more ways of seeing the world through a deeper understanding of the ways diverse cultures have of expressing what they see, think, and feel.