Devyn Flesher, PAN’s Prince George Site Coordinator for the Positive Living Positive Homes study, is a 2nd year graduate student at the University of Northern British Columbia, pursuing a Master’s Degree in Gender Studies. Her Master’s thesis focuses on representations of female sexuality in the Twilight Saga and an examination of the views of fans through critical reading of Fanfiction.
What first piqued your interest in HIV research?
Growing up in the 90s, HIV and AIDS have always been part of my social consciousness. When I moved from the Lower Mainland to Prince George, I was struck by the dramatic increase in the amount of HIV/AIDS awareness information that was in the public eye. That there was a need for this information seemed like a dramatic step backward. I’ve come to realize that, to the general public, HIV/AIDS is a problem that has been “solved” or at least is under control. There is a real need to make sure that as a society we don’t backslide on HIV/AIDS awareness and education.
How is your research applicable in the “real world”?
The research I’m doing around the specific need for housing solutions that target people living with HIV has the potential to solve a problem that is a catalyst for a whole series of other problems. Healthy, stable housing is the first step in helping people to have healthy, stable lives.
How is the community involved in your research?
The community is involved in my work through facilitating the research, participating in the research, and supporting and educating me about individual experiences. The research I’m doing is about stories and experiences. It’s not just numbers on a chart.
If you had unlimited funds, which areas of research would you invest in?
I feel like there are still a lot of barriers to accurate education about HIV/AIDS. The general knowledge that some people have is outdated and inaccurate, not only in regard to the specifics of how the virus works, but also the way it is currently managed as a public health issue and the treatments that are available and the success of those treatments. I would love to know what has changed in the public perception of HIV and how we can increase accurate awareness of the disease.
If you were able to choose, what is the natural talent you’d like to be gifted with and why?
I would love to have musical ability. I grew up around musicians. I have lots of friends who are musicians. I thought for years that that was something I could just learn to do. But I can’t. Music has such a strong ability to enhance people’s lives. I wish I had that ability.